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Waste not, want not

By Jennie L. Phipps ·
Monday, September 26, 2011
Posted: 4 pm ET

Here's the ultimate in retirement planning.

Last week, there was another report that said the federal government is paying dead people. The report from the Office of Personnel Management said that deceased federal employees received more than $601 million in retirement benefit payments over the last five years -- an increase of 70 percent since 2005.

A year ago, Sen. Tom Coburn, a Republican from Oklahoma, rounded up these figures about other federal overpayments since 2000 to those who who are in a place where they can't spend them:

  • The Social Security Administration sent $18 million in stimulus funds to 71,688 dead people and $40.3 million in questionable benefit payments to 1,760 dead people.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services sent 11,000 dead people $3.9 million in assistance to pay heating and cooling costs.
  • The Department of Agriculture sent $1.1 billion in farming subsidies to deceased farmers.
  • The Department of Housing and Urban Development overseeing local agencies knowingly distributed $15.2 million in housing subsidies to 3,995 households with at least one deceased person.
  • Medicaid paid over $700,000 in claims for prescriptions for controlled substances written for over 1,800 deceased patients and prescriptions for controlled substances written by 1,200 deceased doctors.
  • Medicare paid as much as $92 million in claims for medical supplies prescribed by dead doctors and $8.2 million for medical supplies prescribed for dead patients.

I know federal waste is an easy target. If fixing the problems that result in these kinds of overpayments was cheap and simple, it would have been done long ago. But that said, our ability to keep track of who gets paid what has grown significantly more sophisticated over the last few years. Before we trim Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, let's first figure out how to stop paying people who have already received their just rewards.

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1 Comment
September 30, 2011 at 11:30 pm

It would be simple to fix if pensioners in the states must do what those living outside of the states must do. I must physically go to my bank and withdraw (providing my passport as ID) my pensions and deposit them into a "working account". This rule went into affect over 2 years ago.
Without such actions, it would be so simple for a relative to continue pocketing pensions for years after the pensioners death!
BTW: I also can not have an ATM nor access this special "pension deposit account" from the internet................where I do almost all of my banking activities.