When it comes to the Social Security Administration's disability payouts, prisoners are winning big.
And the big losers: Taxpayers.
A recent report from the Office of the Inspector General for the SSA found that of a sampling of 100 disability recipients, one-fourth of them had been receiving the benefit — wrongfully — while in jail. The report, called the "Special Disability Workload Payments Made to Incarcerated Beneficiaries," advised the government to take action to recoup the overpayments and wrongful payments.
"SSA issued improper DI [disability insurance] payments to beneficiaries for periods they were in correctional institutions," the IG reported Friday. "Of the 100 sample cases we reviewed, SSA appropriately took action to suspend DI benefit payments for 75 beneficiaries who had periods of conviction and incarceration, but overpaid DI benefits to the remaining 25 sample beneficiaries."
Take that sample to its logical, mathematical conclusion, and it's clear: "Based on this sample, we estimate SSA overpaid about $1 million to 440 beneficiaries," the government watchdog found.
By the numbers, it looks like this: An estimated 317 prisoners received a total of $879,000 in disability insurance. Another 123 were paid a total of $143,000 — and that's despite the SSA taking away their benefits. And more than $1 million in wrongful payments were disbursed.
The IG recommended that SSA look into recouping payments from the prisoners who received the payment inappropriately. The IG also said the SSA should "take action it determines appropriate to review the accuracy of the DI payments made to the remaining 1,661 individuals in the agency's [database] who have criminal history data in SSA's information systems."
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