Tax Policy and Administration:

Uncredited Earnings for Social Security

T-HRD-88-2: Published: Oct 15, 1987. Publicly Released: Oct 15, 1987.


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GAO discussed the Social Security Administration's (SSA) and Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) reconciliation of differences in employer reports of employee earnings made separately to the two agencies. GAO found that: (1) 9.7 million persons had earnings during the years 1978 through 1984 that were not credited to their Social Security earnings records; (2) because SSA and IRS disagreed as to which agency was responsible for reconciling the differences, there was a backlog of 3 million unreconciled reports; (3) SSA delayed taking action to resolve its disagreement with IRS or initiating action on its own when IRS stated that its resources precluded the reconciling of all reports; (4) three of every five individuals face possible losses of monthly Social Security benefits averaging about $17; and (5) although the law requires SSA to certify earnings amounts it records, it has not done so since 1978. GAO noted that Congress may want to specify whether SSA should retain or return to the Treasury the portion of its tax revenues attributable to uncredited earnings.

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