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.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) should direct the Commissioner of SSA to develop and implement a comprehensive national effort to obtain and use State and local data, noting, where appropriate, legislative and administrative impediments to obtaining such data. Significant impediments should be brought to the attention of Congress or HEW for resolution. In addition, SSA should be directed to immediately request the assistance of California and New York in obtaining unemployment compensation benefits, and should use these records as well as current Pennsylvania and Kentucky workmen's compensation data to verify the SSI and disability insurance records.

    Agency Affected:


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