U.S. Congressman Sam Johnson (R-TX), Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security announced today that the Subcommittee will hold a hearing on the accuracy and uses of the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File. The hearing will take place on Thursday, February 2, 2012 in B-318 Rayburn House Office Building, beginning at 9:00 a.m. ...
As many news reports have accounted, incorrect death reports have created severe personal and financial hardship for those who are erroneously listed as deceased, including the termination of benefits and the public disclosure of information that the SSA normally keeps confidential. According to the SSA, each year approximately 14,000 individuals are incorrectly listed as deceased on the DMF. Those affected have experienced termination of benefits, rejected credit, declined mortgages and other devastating consequences while their personal and private information is publicly exposed.
Further, the DMF reportedly has become a source for thieves to capitalize on the identities of children and others who have died. Criminals appear to be exploiting the easy access to death information to submit fraudulent tax returns that include the decedent’s SSN. Parents of the deceased child do not know their child’s identity has been stolen until the IRS rejects their legitimately filed return and the theft has been exposed.But if you don't use the Death Master File, you end up paying out lots of Social Security benefits to dead people. If you don't make the Death Master File available to other agencies, then other agencies have the same problem. If you don't make the Death Master File available to the public, there is the same problem with private retirement benefits and with credit fraud not to mention that life insurers get to avoid paying off on their insureds whose survivors did not know there was a life insurance policy.
Like a lot of government, the Death Master File sounds terribly boring but it has huge implications. for many, many people Also like a lot of government problems, probably there is no solution so we'll have to keep muddling along.