Social Security Should Obtain and Use State Data To Verify Benefits for All Its Programs

HRD-80-4: Published: Oct 16, 1979. Publicly Released: Oct 16, 1979.

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The integrity of the four Social Security programs which pay monthly benefits to aged and disabled persons or their survivors and dependents depends on recipients voluntarily reporting changes in their income, resources, and other eligibility circumstances. During fiscal year 1978, $257.4 million in payment errors were made because Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients provided inaccurate or incomplete information, or failed to report changes in their circumstances.

While many programs at the State and local levels can affect SSA benefit programs, no SSA group has the responsibility for systematically organizing, coordinating, and directing a unified approach to obtain State data for use on all SSA programs. Principal efforts by SSA to verify State data have been in the SSI program, and have consisted of trying to develop an informational exchange between State payment files and the SSI State data exchange record given the States for their use. The SSI program is the only program measuring overpayments and underpayments for failures of reporting. Although SSA has successfully obtained and verified benefit information from other Federal agencies to help minimize incorrect payments, little has been done to obtain information maintained by State and local governments which could be used to further reduce erroneous payments. Obstacles confronting SSA in obtaining State data include no specific legislative requirements for States to provide the data, the large number of agencies within a State, and the degree of automation of State records.

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