Justice and Law Enforcement:

States' Efforts To Detect Duplicate Public Assistance Payments

HRD-81-133: Published: Sep 17, 1981. Publicly Released: Sep 28, 1981.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO obtained information concerning the efforts of the States to make comparisons of their public assistance rolls for the detection of duplicate payments. GAO also analyzed the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program in four States to determine the extent to which undetected duplicate enrollments and payments occurred in these States.

GAO sent questionnaires to the 50 States, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands and received responses from all of them. The replies indicated that about half of the States had made efforts to compare their public assistance rolls on an intrastate basis for identification of duplicate payments. Because the frequency, thoroughness, and amount of available information on the results of these efforts varied significantly from State to State, GAO was unable to draw an overall conclusion on the success of these efforts in identifying duplicate payments. The GAO analysis of all 1979 AFDC cases in the four States selected indicated that duplicate enrollments existed which may have resulted in undetected duplicate payments. Because of the number of cases identified, GAO did not determine how many actually involved duplicate payments, but provided the Health and Human Services (HHS) Inspector General with lists of these cases for detailed investigation and resolution. Further, the ability to identify the amount of AFDC duplication was hampered by invalid and missing information in the four States' AFDC computerized beneficiary records. Most of the data element errors that were found dealt with invalid social security numbers which could disguise duplicate enrollments and hinder their identification. Conversely, AFDC cases having identical beneficiary social security numbers could give the appearance of duplication when in fact two different people may be involved.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of HHS should direct the Commissioner of Social Security to require Tennessee to update the AFDC beneficiary data when dependent children are born to eliminate the designation of "unborn" in children's records.

    Agency Affected: Department of Health and Human Services

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of HHS should direct the Commissioner of Social Security to instruct Illinois to correct the erroneous data currently on file.

    Agency Affected: Department of Health and Human Services

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of HHS should direct the Commissioner of Social Security to require Illinois to modify its system to prevent the inclusion of beneficiary records with erroneous social security numbers and missing last names.

    Agency Affected: Department of Health and Human Services

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of HHS should direct the Commissioner of Social Security to determine why Illinois has so many incorrect social security numbers in its AFDC computerized system.

    Agency Affected: Department of Health and Human Services

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of HHS should direct the Commissioner of Social Security to give the States a list of the valid ranges of social security numbers for the States' use in checking numbers provided by AFDC beneficiaries.

    Agency Affected: Department of Health and Human Services

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of HHS should direct the Inspector General to follow up on State efforts to resolve the potential duplicate AFDC cases that GAO referred to the Inspector General and report on the disposition of these cases.

    Agency Affected: Department of Health and Human Services

 

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