It's no secret that funding is an issue for the Social Security Administration lately. You would think that in times such as these, the SSA would be keeping a watchful eye over its funds. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be the case. In fact, not only is the SSA not doing everything possible to cut unnecessary costs, but it has also recently come to light that the SSA actually blew $8 billion in improper payments.
CBS news has reported that the Social Security Administration made a total of $8 billion in overpayments in 2009. $6.5 billion of that money was sent in the form of disability benefits to people who were not actually eligible to receive payments. Of this $6.5 billion, $4 billion was spent under the Supplemental Security Income program, which is a needs-based program for low-income households.
Just how can $4 billion be spent inappropriately, and exactly who is receiving this money? According to the Social Security Inspector General, approximately 10 percent of the payments that were made under the SSA's Supplemental Security Income program were not made according to protocol. Most of this money went to SSI applicants who did not report their assets or income accurately. Unfortunately, people who really didn't need those SSI payments received them anyway, at the taxpayers’ expense.
So, if $6.5 billion was thrown away on improper disability payments, where did the other $2.5 billion go? It was spent on improper retirement, survivor and disability payments. When you consider that these payments make up the bulk of the payments sent by the Social Security Administration, you quickly see that a problem lies within the system.
And if that wasn't bad enough, the SSA is not alone in its erroneous spending. The entire federal government made $125 billion in improper payments in 2010. For a country that needs to address a severe national deficit and is trying to do so by taking money from those who need it most, this isn't promising.
In an effort to thwart erroneous spending, the SSA is increasing the number of Social Security Disability reviews that are conducted each year to ensure that beneficiaries who receive Social Security Disability or SSI payments still meet the necessary income and medical requirements. The SSA has also implemented new technology to make sure benefit recipients do not exceed income or asset limits when being approved for the program.