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    Office of the Inspector General

    August 29, 2000

    William A. HalterDeputy Commissioner

    of Social Security

    Inspector General

    Old-Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance Benefits Paid to Fugitives (A-01-00-10014)

    Attached is a copy of our final report. Our objective was to determine whether theSocial Security Administration should pursue legislation to prohibit Old-Age, Survivorsand Disability Insurance benefits to fugitives, similar to the provisions pertaining toSupplemental Security Income payments under Public Law 104-193.

    Please comment within 60 days from the date of this memorandum on corrective actiontaken or planned on each recommendation. If you wish to discuss the final report,please call me or have your staff contact Steven L. Schaeffer, Assistant InspectorGeneral for Audit, at (410) 965-9700.

    James G. Huse, Jr.

    Attachment

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    OFFICE OFTHE INSPECTOR GENERAL

    SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION

    OLD-AGE, SURVIVORS ANDDISABILITY INSURANCE

    BENEFITS PAID TO FUGITIVES

    August 2000 A-01-00-10014

    AUDIT REPORT

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    Executive Summary

    OBJECTIVE

    Our objective was to determine whether the Social Security Administration (SSA)should pursue legislation to prohibit Old-Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance(OASDI) benefits to fugitives, similar to the provisions pertaining to SupplementalSecurity Income (SSI) payments under Public Law (P.L.) 104-193.

    BACKGROUND

    The OASDI program provides retirement benefits to insured individuals who havereached the minimum retirement age, survivors benefits to dependents of insuredwage earners in the event the family wage earner dies, and disability benefits todisabled wage earners and their families. The SSI program provides income to

    financially needy individuals who are aged, blind, or disabled.

    In August 1996, title XVI of the Social Security Act was amended by the PersonalResponsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (P.L. 104-193) toprohibit SSI benefit payments to fugitive felons. However, title II of the Social SecurityAct was not similarly amended to prohibit OASDI benefits to fugitive felons. Currently, afugitive felon is eligible to receive OASDI benefits, but he or she is not eligible to receiveSSI benefits.

    RESULTS OF REVIEW

    SSA should pursue legislation to prohibit the payment of OASDI benefits to fugitives.Based on the results of our statistical sample, we estimate that at least 17,300 fugitiveswere paid at least $108 million in OASDI payments between August 1996 and the datewe reviewed the sample cases. We also estimate that fugitives will continue to receiveat least $39 million in OASDI benefits during the next year if legislation is not enacted toprohibit such benefit payments. The fugitives identified during our review are wantedfor serious offenses and parole/probation violations.

    Additionally, about 40 percent of the fugitives in our review receiving OASDI benefitsalso received SSI benefit payments. Although about $597,000 in SSI payments paid tothe fugitives in our sample are considered overpayments, these fugitives remain entitled

    to about $1.7 million in OASDI benefits they were paid since August 1996 and willcontinue to be entitled to future OASDI payments unless the law is changed. Also,even though SSA has address information for these fugitives, under current law, SSAcan only share information on fugitives receiving SSI benefits. For fugitives onlyreceiving OASDI benefits, SSA cannot share address information about thesepotentially dangerous fugitives with law enforcement agencies to assist in theirapprehension.

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    CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION

    Although the OASDI program is an entitlement program in which beneficiaries havepaid into the Social Security trust funds, we believe that SSA should not provide OASDIbenefits to fugitive felons. These benefit payments may finance a potentially dangerous

    fugitives flight from justice. Additionally, we believe that implementation of a fugitivenon-payment provision in the OASDI program would assist SSA in presenting aconsistent message to the public of zero tolerance for fraud and abuse. The currentstatutory provisions are inconsistent in that fugitives are prohibited from receiving onetype of Social Security benefit, but can continue to receive a second type of benefitpayment. Further, while both OASDI and SSI benefit payments are suspended forprisoners, only SSI benefit payments are suspended for fugitive felons. As a result, aprisoner cannot receive OASDI benefits, but a fugitive felon can.

    Based on the results of our review, we recommend that SSA pursue legislationprohibiting payment of OASDI benefits to fugitives similar to the provisions pertaining to

    SSI payments under P.L. 104-193.

    AGENCY COMMENTS

    In response to our draft report, SSA stated it was not prepared at this time to agree topursue legislation. However, SSA agreed to assess our recommendation and providethe results of its assessment within 60 days. (See Appendix B for SSAs comments toour draft report.)

    OFFICE OF THE INSPECTOR GENERAL RESPONSE

    We believe our report demonstrates the need for SSA to pursue legislation prohibitingOASDI benefits to fugitives, and we urge SSA to agree with our recommendation afterits own assessment is complete.

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    Table o f ContentsPage

    INTRODUCTION .................................................................................................... 1

    RESULTS OF REVIEW.......................................................................................... 3

    Fugitives Receiving OASDI Benefits ................................................................. 3

    Types Of Felony Warrants Issued For OASDI Beneficiaries ............................ 5

    Fugitives Receiving Both OASDI And SSI Benefits .......................................... 6

    CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION...........................................................8

    APPENDICES

    Appendix A Sampling Methodology and Results

    Appendix B Agency Comments

    Appendix C OIG Contacts and Staff Acknowledgments

    Appendix D SSA Organizational Chart

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    AcronymsBIC Beneficiary Identification CodeMBR Master Beneficiary RecordOASDI Old-Age, Survivors and Disability InsuranceOI Office of InvestigationsOIG Office of the Inspector GeneralP.L. Public LawSSA Social Security AdministrationSSI Supplemental Security Income

    OASDI Benefits Paid to Fugitives (A-01-00-10014)

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    Introduct ionOBJECTIVE

    Our objective was to determine whether the Social Security Administration (SSA)should pursue legislation to prohibit Old-Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance(OASDI) benefits to fugitives,

    1similar to the provisions pertaining to Supplemental

    Security Income (SSI) payments under Public Law (P.L.) 104-193.

    BACKGROUND

    The OASDI program provides retirement benefits to insured individuals who havereached the minimum retirement age, survivors benefits to dependents of insuredwage earners in the event the family wage earner dies, and disability benefits todisabled wage earners and their families. The SSI program provides income tofinancially needy individuals who are aged, blind, or disabled.In August 1996, section 1611(e) of the Social Security Act was amended by thePersonal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996(P.L. 104-193) to prohibit SSI benefit payments for any month during which anindividual is: (1) fleeing to avoid prosecution for a crime which is a felony (or in NewJersey, a high misdemeanor); (2) fleeing to avoid custody or confinement afterconviction for a crime which is a felony (or in New Jersey, a high misdemeanor); or (3) violating a condition of probation or parole imposed under Federal or State law.This provision applies solely to SSI recipients and not to OASDI beneficiaries, eventhough many beneficiaries receive benefits concurrently under both the SSI and OASDIprograms.

    2

    In a regulatory commentary dated December 1997, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) recommended that SSA seek a legislative change to expand the SSI fugitivefelon payment prohibition to the OASDI program. In addition, the OIG stated thatexpansion of the SSI fugitive non-payment provisions to the OASDI program wouldfurther SSAs Strategic Plan objective of zero tolerance for fraud and abuse. To date,SSA has not proposed the recommended legislative change.

    1Throughout the report when we use the term fugitive felons, we are referring to those fugitives

    specifically prohibited from receiving SSI benefits under P.L. 104-193, including parole and probationviolators.

    2Individuals receiving benefits under both the SSI and OASDI programs are called concurrent

    beneficiaries.

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    This is our third report on the fugitive felon issue. In our first report, we provided theresults of a survey of the 50 States regarding the availability of fugitive files that are notcurrently provided to SSA.

    3Our second report reviewed SSAs efforts to identify and

    prevent SSI benefit payments to fugitive felons in accordance with P.L. 104-193.4

    SCOPE AND M

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