According to the latest federal audit, the Social Security Administration has given at least $1.3 million to criminals and Social Security fraudsters.
The agency’s Inspector General discovered that over 50 representative payees who had previous criminal records had received benefits. These representative payees are people who take the responsibility to administer Social Security benefits to someone who cannot manage the funds themselves; for example, disabled children, disabled family members, or the mentally ill – all of who are not able to properly take care of themselves.
“Of the cases we reviewed, 51 individuals were serving as payees for 70 beneficiaries although the payees had been convicted of violating criminal sections of the Social Security Act, payee fraud, or other criminal felonies,” the Inspector General said. “SSA paid the 51 payees about $1.3 million in beneficiaries’ benefit payments after their convictions.”
The audit further revealed that 39 felons continued to receive payments even after the Social Security Administration announced and implemented a policy in 2014 to ban criminals from receiving payments for others.
The agency has also banned individuals convicted of robbery, fraud, or homicide, from receiving any kinds of benefits payments for another person.
However, despite this ban, criminals who had previously committed mail fraud and wire fraud, bank fraud, or stolen government funds were still paid $752,000 in disability and retirement benefits.
“Additionally, until April 2016, SSA did not have a system to automatically prevent these 936 individuals convicted of barred crimes from being selected as payees in the future,” the Inspector General said.
According to the agency’s PayeeWiz system, which runs background checks on the applicants, over 20% of the people who had applied to become representative payees in 2014 and 2015 had criminal records. Furthermore, out of the 119,000 applicants in the year 2015, around 24% had some kind of previous criminal record.
In another report released by the Associated Press back in 2014, the top investigative authority at the Social Security Administration discovered that the agency paid around $20.2 million in benefits to over 130 Nazi war criminals. The payees included SS guards, suspected war criminals, and several others who are suspected to have played a role in the Holocaust.
After that explosive report, the agency’s Inspector General looked into the AP’s claim and found that 133 Nazis had receive Social Security payments after hiding or fabricating their identities from the government.