Integrity of Social Security Benefit Payment Systems for Dependent Children Can Be Improved

HRD-79-27: Published: Dec 22, 1978. Publicly Released: Dec 22, 1978.

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Alternatives to financing student benefits under the Social Security Administration's (SSA) Retirement, Survivors, and Disability Insurance program were examined. In May 1977, it was found that SSA made 329 duplicate payments, but only 99 of these were identified because the daily detection system is not fully operational. GAO considered social security number, name, address, date of birth, and other family members' names to determine whether the students appeared to be the same or different persons. Many students have been issued a social security number, but these numbers are maintained in a system different from the payment system. To ensure that the earnings test is being properly applied, the Commissioner of SSA should determine from other existing social security records the numbers that are missing for dependent children; attempt to locate duplicate payments by comparing social security numbers of all dependent children receiving benefits; and correct problems in the duplicate payment detection system, such as using a less restrictive identification process.

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