SSA Initiatives to Identify Coaching

HEHS-96-96R: Published: Mar 5, 1996. Publicly Released: Mar 5, 1996.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on two Social Security Administration (SSA) initiatives to identify and process reports of parents coaching their children to fake mental impairments to qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. GAO found that: (1) SSA asked state disability determination services to identify cases of suspected or alleged coaching; (2) SSA reviewed the state determinations and returned to the states those cases with which it disagreed or for which there was insufficient evidence; (3) SSA opened a telephone hotline in each SSA region for teachers and other school personnel to report suspected coaching or other such abuses; (4) both initiatives identified few cases of suspected coaching, and few of the children involved received SSI benefits; (5) the state initiative identified 1,232 cases of suspected or alleged coaching, and only 77 of those cases resulted in awards of SSI benefits; (6) the SSA quality reviewers overturned very few state SSI decisions; and (7) the hotline initiative resulted in 232 allegations, involving 119 children that received benefits, and SSA recommended further action in 83 of those cases.

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