Supplemental Security Income Quality Assurance System:
An Assessment of Its Problems and Potential for Reducing Erroneous Payments
HRD-77-126: Published: May 23, 1978. Publicly Released: May 23, 1978.
- Full Report:
The Social Security Administration (SSA) established a quality assurance system in 1974 to provide information on how well its Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program is operating. Through this system, data were collected which indicated that, at the end of 1976, over $1.4 billion had been overpaid and $277 underpaid to recipients in the program. The system also provides data for determining the liability of the federal government to states for incorrect state supplemental payments which are administered by SSA.
A sampling of 556 quality assurance cases showed 3.4 percent more cases with errors than were shown by the quality assurance system. Also, quality assurance made incorrect determinations on 32 of the 150 deficiencies it identified. Weaknesses which affected the system's reliability were: (1) failure to follow procedures; (2) an improperly structured form for documenting case findings; (3) lack of review of case files; and (4) inadequate personnel training. Error rate statistics are understated because SSA excludes cases from sampling which may bias findings and does not report certain errors. Resources used to obtain data on state supplements reduce quality assurance resources that could be used for corrective action analyses. The system's database does not provide sufficient data for corrective action recommendations, and SSA does not have a formal corrective action system. Three other program evaluation groups within SSA with responsibility for evaluating the SSI program have redundant functions and lack coordination.