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GAO report says SSA needs better internal controls

Congressional investigators with the Government Accountability Office recently released the results of a Social Security disability insurance program audit. The report details issues that were found between December 2010 and January 2013 involving the improper payment of benefits.

“During a time of growing concerns about the solvency of the [disability insurance] trust fund, it is important that [the] SSA take every opportunity to ensure that only eligible beneficiaries receive payment under this program,” said the GAO report.

The GAO pointed to a failure in the management of internal controls within the Social Security Administration. This failure resulted in 36,000 ineligible beneficiaries receiving a sum total of $1.3 billion in benefits. In one case, a single individual received a sum of $74,000 over what should have been paid.

A rule within the program is that in order to remain eligible for disability benefits, an individual could not earn an income above $1,000 for five consecutive months. In many cases, those that earned above this amount continued to receive benefits -- a fault that the GAO claims lies in the hands of the SSA.

While the overpayments were made to less than 1 percent of all disability beneficiaries, it is $1.3 billion that would not go to those who truly cannot work due to a disability.

Even though their approach to the problem may differ, Senators from both sides of the political spectrum weighed in with their concerns over the need to prevent this from occurring in the future.

A lot of St. Louis residents rely on these benefits. The application process itself is difficult enough, which is why many prudent individuals seek the assistance of an experienced SSD attorney.

Source: The Washington Post, “Auditors: Social Security may have overpaid disability claims by $1.3 billion,” Josh Hicks, Sept. 17, 2013

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