Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Social Security Errors

                Did you know there are 6.5 million people in the United States who are 112 years of age or older?  Have you seen any of them?  How many of them do you know?  Are you aware that thousands of these elderly people are applying for jobs?  I do not believe that these 6.5 million elderly are even alive, let alone applying for jobs!

                The March 2015 Office of Audit Report Summary for the Social Security Administration (SSA) reported: “SSA did not have controls in place to annotate death information on the Numident records of numberholders who exceeded maximum reasonable life expectancies and were likely deceased.  To illustrate, we identified approximately 6.5 million numberholders age 112 or older who did not have death information on the Numident.  SSA issued approximately 6.4 million of the SSNs to process benefit claims filed before March 1972, including 48,746 SSNs issued to process death claims.  SSA had input dates of death on approximately 1.4 million nonbeneficiaries’ payment records but had not recorded the death information on the Numident.  We also determined that thousands of the SSNs could have been used to commit identity fraud. 
                “For Tax Years 2006 through 2011, SSA received reports that individuals using 66,920 SSNs had approximately $3.1 billion in wages, tips, and self-employment income.  SSA transferred the earnings to the Earnings Suspense File because the employees’ or self-employed individuals’ names on the earnings reports did not match the numberholders’ names.  During Calendar Years 2008 through 2011, employers made 4,024 E-Verify inquiries using 3,873 SSNs belonging to numberholders born before June 16, 1901.  Resolving these discrepancies will improve the accuracy and completeness of the Death Master File and help prevent future misuse of these SSNs.”

                I found the reason for the audit to be interesting:  A bank apparently notified them that a man used several different Social Security Numbers (SSN) to open bank accounts.  Two of the SSNs used belonged to people born in 1869 and 1893, respectively.  The SSA’s Numident did not list death dates for either of the two people; therefore, neither of their SSNs were listed in the Death Master File.

                This information plus some public information caused the auditors to look closely at the SSA files.  A resident of New York died in September 2013 at age 112; he was believed to be the oldest living man in the world.  The Gerontology Research Group indicated that only 35 known living individuals reached the age of 112 as of October 2013.  The auditors looked at the Numident data and discovered approximately 6.5 million people on their records who were born before June 16, 1901, but did not have any death date listed on their record. 

                The fact that the records did not show death dates does not concern me as much as other problems; after all, the SSA is a government organization and the government hires on a quota basis, not ability basis.  I believe that many government employees do not have the intelligence or skills to perform their jobs adequately. 

                What does bother me is the fact that thousands of these extremely elderly people are applying for jobs.  Are we not caring for our elderly adequately?  The only other explanation is that someone is using their numbers fraudulently.  I believe it is the latter and therefore have several questions:  How did these people know about the SSNs for the elderly people and how did they get them?  Who is responsible for this breach of security for these SSNs?  How many fraudulent uses have not been recognized?

                The  National Review reported that Social Security benefits will soon go to illegal immigrants as a benefit of Mr. Obama’s executive actions on immigration.  “Starting in 2017, the Social Security Administration expects that thousands of undocumented immigrants will begin collecting form the Old-Age, Survivor’s, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) program as a direct result of the president’s actions….”

                Stephen C. Goss, Chief Actuary for the Social Security Administration, sent a letter dated February 2, 2015, to Senator Ron Johnson, Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, confirming there will be a hike in payouts.  This “increase in OASDI covered workers starting in 2015 due to the executive actions will also result in additional individuals gaining insured status for benefits from Social Security.”

                Senator Johnson (R-Wis.) made a joint press release on March 9, 2015, with Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), ranking member of the committee, to call attention to the problem.  After calling the errors “preventable” and “incredible,” Senator Johnson said, “This problem has serious consequences…. Tens of thousands of these numbers are currently being used to report wages to the Social Security Administration and to the IRS.  People are fraudulently, but successfully, applying for jobs and benefits with these numbers….”

                Senator Carper added, “This report by the Social Security Administration’s Inspector General details a major problem with how we report and keep track of deceased individuals.  Not only do these types of avoidable errors waste millions of taxpayers’ dollars annually and expose our citizens to identity theft, but they also undermine confidence in our government.”  Noting that some of SSNs belonged to people with birthdays predating the Civil War, Carper called the report “unacceptable.”

                The Senators stated that they will be in contact with the head of the Social Security Administration for “specific answers” on how to solve this “unacceptable situation.”

                Rachel Greszler, the senior policy analyst in economics and entitlements at The Heritage Foundation, recently wrote that legalizing illegal immigrants would increase Social Security’s liabilities:  “While many undocumented workers operate off the books and do not pay taxes, a Heritage Foundation study estimates that 55 percent of undocumented workers are already contributing to Social Security.  These undocumented workers are currently not entitled to any benefits based on the taxes they pay, but if they become legal through amnesty, they will be eligible for future benefits.  Thus, a majority of the undocumented workers who would be made legal through the proposed bill would be pure liabilities to the Social Security system; they would pay little, if anything, more in taxes than they otherwise would, but they would be eligible for full Social Security benefits.”

                I, along with experts at The Heritage Foundation and other Americans, am quite concerned about these problems.  I wonder how Social Security funds will cover the elderly of our day who have paid into the system if the funds also must also cover illegal aliens who have not paid anything into the system.  I hope my readers are saving their own funds for their older years because it looks more and more like Social Security funds will not be there!

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