Spotty death reporting hampers SSA databases

The Social Security Administration failed to record the death information for more than a million deceased beneficiaries, resulting in reduced effectiveness of the nationwide system that verifies new employees’ work eligibility, according to an inspector general.

A July IG report found SSA hadn’t transferred the death information for nearly 1.2 million people from an internal records system to its Numident database. The database is used to create the Death Master File and to provide information to the E-Verify process, which agencies use to confirm U.S. employment eligibility.

The report also found 681 deceased beneficiaries had earnings on the Master Earnings File for 2010 that were recorded at least a year after their deaths. Finally, 23 employers who made 30 E-Verify inquiries for 23 deceased beneficiaries never received any indication of that these individuals were deceased.

SSA needs to improve its controls to ensure it beneficiaries’ death information is included in the Numident database, the IG said and recommended the agency analyze its death processing systems and create a system to identify deceased beneficiaries who have death information on the MBR but not on the Numident.

SSA has agreed with the recommendations, adding it’s working with states to ensure more accurate and timely death reports.

About the Author

Camille Tuutti is a former FCW staff writer who covered federal oversight and the workforce.

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