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SSA should undertake improvements to death data procedures, GAO says

Dec. 27, 2013 - 04:32PM   |  
By SEAN REILLY   |   Comments

The Social Security Administration should assess possible weaknesses in its approach to collecting death information and sharing it with other agencies, the Government Accountability Office said in a new report.

While that information is supposed to be a key tool in keeping federal benefit checks from going to the deceased, SSA’s current methods risk producing “inaccurate, incomplete or untimely” data, according to the report. Up to 1.2 million dead recipients of Social Security retirement benefits were not included in SSA’s death data, for example, meaning that other agencies relying on that information could end up making improper payments, the GAO said.

The report also questioned the Social Security Administration’s system for sharing the information with other parts of the government. At a May hearing, Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo,, complained that SSA officials should not charge other agencies for access to its death records. While Social Security offcials say they must by law seek reimbursement for the cost of the furnishing that information, GAO advised them to do a better job of explaining the reason for the cost to individual agencies.

Read the report: http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-46

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