You may recall there was a big ‘new identity theft scheme‘ back in 2010, where children’s Social Security numbers were being stolen – decades before they could even quality to earn an income.
Now, according to a recent watchdog review, the victims of theft are much older. So old, in fact, they may literally be rolling in their graves at the news.
The Social Security Administration‘s audit revealed that 6.5 million Social Security numbers are over the age of 112.
According to the Gerontology Research Group, there are only 35 people known to reach the age of 112 in the world, yet somehow life expectancy has vastly surpassed the world, according to the audit.
It certainly comes to no surprise that the U.S. does not inhabit the worlds’ largest populate of century-old citizens, but in fact, the findings merely reveal the one of many government failures that we must surrender to.
The report’s findings show that SSA “did not have controls in place to annotate death information on the “Numident” records of numberholders who exceeded maximum reasonable life expectancies and were likely deceased.”
The report also determined that thousands of the SSNs may have been used in identity fraud.
For Tax Years 2006 through 2011, SSA received reports that individuals using 66,920 SSNs had approximately $3.1 billion in wages, tips, and self-employment income. SSA transferred the earnings to the Earnings Suspense File because the employees’ or self-employed individuals’ names on the earnings reports did not match the numberholders’ names.
The report also shows that during the years 2008 through 2011, employers made 4,024 E-Verify inquiries using 3,873 SSNs belonging to social security holders born before June 16, 1901.
High ranking government committee members also commented on the report, According to CNS News:
“It is incredible the Social Security Administration in 2015 does not have the technical sophistication to ensure that people they know to be deceased are actually noted a dead,” remarked Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
“Tens of thousands of these numbers are currently being used to report wages to the Social Security Administration and to the IRS,” Johnson said. “People are fraudulently, but successfully, applying for jobs and benefits with these numbers. Making sure Social Security cleans up its death master file to prevent future errors and fraud is a good government reform we can all agree on.”
Another committee’s ranking member, Tom Carper (D-Del.) said that these findings are a “major problem” that wastes taxpayers’ money, exposes citizens to identity theft and undermines confidence in government:
“It is simply unacceptable that our nation’s database of Social Security numbers of supposedly living people includes more than six and a half million people who are older than 112 years of age, with a few thousand having birth dates from before the Civil War. Preventing agency errors by keeping track of who has died is a relatively simple problem that the government should pursue as a high priority.”
The Social Administration matches death reports from various sources against its payment records, according the IG, then it records the date of a number-holder’s death in its Numerical Identification System.
Information from the number-holder is then used to create SSA’s “Death Master File,” which is used by various government entities and financial institutions to prevent identity theft. If a death is not recorded on the individual, it will not appear in the Death Master File.
Although the IG made recommendations to resolve the discrepancies, according to The Washington Post, the agency disagreed with some, saying it would divert resources away from efforts to improve payment accuracy with benefits.
“The recommendations would create a significant manual and labor-intensive workload and provide no benefit to the administration of our programs,” Social Security management said in a response to the review.
The agency did agree to other suggestions that were made, including one that would resolve cases in which multiple individuals are using the same number.