Thursday, November 7, 2013

"The US Government has a Problem with Dead People"

I liked David Fahrenthold’s (Washington Post) opening sentences to his recent article.  “The US Government has a problem with dead people.  For one thing, it pays them way too much.”

That has to be one of the classic understatements that I’ve heard recently.  He goes on to state that:

  • The Social Security Administration, in the past few years, paid $133 million to beneficiaries no longer among the living.
  • The federal employee retirement system paid more than $400 million to former retirees who were dead.
  • And, a federal aid program paid approximately $4 million in federal money to pay heating and air-conditioning bills for more than 11,000 dead people.


Apparently, our federal government is incapable of determining who died and when.  Personally, I don’t buy it.  I think that, in their efforts to dole out money, where the money goes and whether the money is appropriately allocated is really a rather low priority.  After all, the government is printing money night and day to ‘stimulate the economy’; and they must disseminate it somehow.

Some of you might say, True, you know nothing about politics and national economics or the Social Security Administration – just put a sock in it.

You might be correct, but I do know something about fraud, embezzlement and theft, and the motivations there of.  And, I do know something about the facilitation of fraud, embezzlement and theft.  And, I do know that if the above statistics are accurate, the federal agencies indicated are either grossly incompetent or a committed facilitator of fraud and theft.

Furthermore, isn’t it ironic that the federal government is in the process of assuming control of our healthcare when they apparently can’t seem to handle the social services that they already control?  Fraudulent healthcare claims will be infinitely more complex than simply verifying that someone passed-away.

Why, you may ask, would said federal agencies facilitate theft?  Well, let me ask you this.  The Social Security Administration has approximately 65,000 employees with multiple offices in every state.  Doesn’t it seem logical that they could dedicate say 50 or 100 employees, even 200 employees, to establish a database of people who have died – if the SSA decided that they actually wanted to do that?  Presumably, the SSA already has a database of all those who are receiving federal benefits.  Can’t they figure any way to periodically check to see if recipients of social services are still alive; in this day and age with all the technology available?  Can’t they cross-check data with other agencies like the IRS; and, if not, why not?  What about state records?  Certainly the states keep track of bodies left here and there?  The states even make an effort to identify them?  At least I thought they did.

What about getting some help from the NSA?  (Question meant as sarcasm - for those who thought I might be serious.)

Well, I have some simple suggestions for the SSA and other federal agencies.  But no doubt it will fall on deaf ears.

To be continued…

True Nelson
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