There are 6.5 million dead people receiving Social Security benefits in the United States—more than double the population of Chicago.
That’s according to the Social Security Administration’s latest assessment that identifies 6.5 million Social Security recipients older than 112 years.
While it would be nice to believe that health care in the United States has improved so much under ObamaCare that the number of supercentenarians has skyrocketed, the Gerontology Research Group points out that only some 42 people in the world were older than 112 and alive as of October 2014. Only 15 of those were in the United States.
So who is cashing in these checks and how much are they pocketing? Some of the checks are sent to family members, and others to identity thieves. Authorities consider both cases fraud.
Last year, the SSA investigated about 630 cases of people fraudulently cashing Social Security checks for dead people. That investigation recovered some US$55 million but was a drop in the bucket of fraudulently cashed dead people’s Social Security checks. The SSA also identified US$3 billion sent from 2006 to 2011 to 67,000 Social Security numbers for people older than 112.
The Government Accountability Office watchdog claims that almost US$125 billion in improper Social Security payments were made in 2014 (which includes not only those improperly issued to dead people but other improper payments as well).
Democratic Senator Mark Warner from Virginia introduced a bill to the Senate with bipartisan support to curb these erroneous payments. A similar bill was simultaneously introduced in the House. The legislation calls for better information management and sharing among government agencies in order to properly register Social Security recipients’ deaths and stop their payments.
One Social Security recipient born in the 1886 and another in the 1893 were still receiving checks, according to the SSA. If either of these people were in fact alive, they would break current longevity records. The verified record for the oldest person ever to live is 122 years 164 days, held by a woman from France who died in 1997. The oldest person living today is a 115-year-old woman from the United States.