Jul 13, 2012

You Can't Rely On The Death Master File

     According to a recent report by Social Security's Office of Inspector General (OIG) there are 1.2 million deceased Social Security beneficiaries who are not recorded on Social Security's Death Master File. Despite this, it appears that Social Security is generally terminating benefits for most of the 1.2 million anyway. However, this leaves other entities relying on the Death Master File vulnerable, including e-verify checks of new hires.
     This story has been picked up by the Washington Post's Federal Eye column which includes some ridiculous quotes from Senator Tom Coburn.


Anonymous said...

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), ranking member of the Social Security subcommittee, called the poor recordkeeping “inexcusable” and said the failure to properly maintain the database of deaths costs taxpayers millions of dollars a year.

“That is embarrassing, especially when the [Social Security Administration] is overseeing retirement and disability programs that are going bankrupt,” he said in a statement.

Charles, how are these quotes from Coburn ridiculous? It is an established fact that failure to properly maintain the death master file costs taxpayers millions in improper payments. Therefore, that Coburn statement is NOT ridiculous. Do you really want to dispute that poor recordkeeping is inexcusable? That comment is accurate. Finally, the Social Security system is heading towards bankruptcy/insolvency unless changes are made. It is embarrassing that SSA does not do a better job of ensuring the accuracy of its databases and payments.

You are letting your vitriolic hatred of Coburn cloud your common sense.

Anonymous said...

There are 2 separate questions: 1) Does SSA stop benefits when they receive a telephone report of death? and 2) Does SSA record the death in the Master file based solely on a telephone report?
The answer per the OIG report is yes to 1 and no to 2. That's perfectly reasonable. It is unreasonable to expect SSA to "kill off" a beneficary in a national database, available to both Federal agencies and private contractors based on a telephone report. That goes double when there is a discrepancy between the information entered in the computer and the numident information on the beneficiary.
Eventually there will be death certificates issued which will get the beneficiaries into the master file, but it's unreasonable to criticize SSA for failure to enter beneficiaries at the time of a telephone report