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Social Security Administration makes benefit mistakes

The Social Security Administration is not above making mistakes, and sometimes those mistakes can disrupt the lives of California residents who may be relying on such benefits. Investigations found that the SSA paid benefits to some veterans who were deceased and had death records for others who were found to still be alive.

In late August 2017, an audit by the inspector general found discrepancies in the administration's benefit payments. It had paid almost $38 million to 746 veterans who were deceased. These discrepancies are often the result of inaccurate information being reported to the SSA. It receives information about a beneficiary's death from a variety of sources, including state agencies, friends and family, financial institutions and funeral homes. The investigation looked specifically at information for veterans. The VA provides death information every month via either the Beneficiary Identification Records Locator System or the Veteran's Service Network. These reports are supposed to be verified by the SSA before benefits are terminated, but this does not always happen.

The inspector general's audit also found that 11 percent of a random selection of cases examined had the opposite problem, as the SSA had determined a beneficiary to be deceased when they were in fact still alive. In four such instances, a spouse's death had erroneously been entered into the veteran's record, and in seven additional instances, SSA employees actually had direct contact with the beneficiary after the reported date of their death. Even so, the records not been successfully updated.

Errors in the SSA's records may terminate benefits to those who should rightfully still receive them. If a person's Social Security Disability payments stop suddenly or without reason, it may be due to inaccurate reporting to the SSA. An attorney may be able to help a client determine the reason for a stop in benefits and correct any errors in the record.

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