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house Bill H.R. 2543

Should All Relevant Federal Agencies Get Access to Social Security’s ‘Death Master File’ to Prevent Improper Payments to Deceased People?

Argument in favor

Improper payments to deceased people cost the federal government and, by extension, taxpayers. This form of government waste could be reduced by giving all federal agencies access to the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File, which is the most up-to-date list of deaths in the U.S.

SneakyPete's Opinion
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05/31/2019
Why the Devil 😈 Shouldn’t INFORMATION Be Provided to All Agencies? Improper payments to deceased people cost the federal government and, by extension, taxpayers. This form of government waste could be reduced by giving all federal agencies access to the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File, which is the most up-to-date list of deaths in the U.S. SneakyPete..... 👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻. 5.31.19.....
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Allen's Opinion
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05/31/2019
Hell yes we should I pay enough out of my pocket for welfare fraud and Workmen’s Comp. fraud if we can stop the zombies from getting into my pocket we should
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Jim2423's Opinion
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05/31/2019
Yes because benefits are not just paid by SSA. They are paid by military retirement, federal government retirement, VA disability payments. I imagine there are many more. If the funeral director does not report the death to the correct agencies or a family member with direct deposit anymore the checks just keep coming. If the not so honest family member doesn’t report it, well that is stealing.
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Argument opposed

Not all federal agencies need access to complete death records in order to carry out their work. In the interest of preserving the privacy of the deceased and those close them, it’s best to restrict access to the Death Master File as much as possible.

jimK's Opinion
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05/31/2019
Absolutely not. I, for one, don't want ALL federal agencies involved in monitoring anymore about me than is absolutely needed. Appropriate agencies already have or should have access. Why would other agencies need this information? I think that this bill is meaningless and cannot figure out why it was even proposed. Since there is no obvious reason that I can surmise, I have to believe that it is proposed for some hidden reason, to the benefit of someone or something else. I'm sorry, but until I see realistic action to hold the current power-abusers and great-deceivers accountable, I am suspicious of of any legislation that does not address clearly needed changes.
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burrkitty's Opinion
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05/31/2019
All? Only the agencies that pay benefits need access to the Death file. USGS doesn’t need the death file. DOD, EPA, GaF... there are more agencies that Don’t need it than do. No. This is way to broad. And yes I see it says “relevant” here on countable,but GO READ THE ACTUAL BILL.
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Marylynn's Opinion
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05/31/2019
Absolutely not. I'm sorry but too much of our personal information is being shared with agencies that shouldn't have it. How the hell do we know if these agencies and it's employees can be trusted with the info. Why the hell doesn't Soc. Sec. do a better job of keeping track of beneficiaries? At the time of a recipient's death the system should purge that recipients information so that benefits cease being sent. If the Social Security Admin. doesn't do this, then it's their fault when unscrupulous people steal said benefits....
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What is House Bill H.R. 2543?

This bill — the Stopping Improper Payments to Deceased People Act — would allow all federal agencies access to the complete Death Master File, which is administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA). It’d allow all appropriate federal agencies to have access to complete death data for program integrity purposes, as well as other needs, such as public safety and health.

It’d also require the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to issue guidance to agencies on the use of death data to curb improper payments. OMB would also be required to develop plans for improving federal data-sharing with state and local agencies.

Finally, this bill would establish procedures to ensure more accurate death data. This would include requiring the SSA to screen for “extremely elderly” individuals, who are likely deceased.

Impact

Deaths; federal agencies; improper payments from the federal government to deceased persons; and the Social Security Administration Death Master File.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 2543

In the 115th Congress, the CBO estimated that there wouldn’t be a significant cost to implementing this bill.

More Information

In-DepthRep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL) reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress to allow all federal agencies access to the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File, which is the most complete information on who has died:

“Taxpayers deserve to know that we’re protecting their hard earned dollars and I can’t think of a more egregious example of government waste than writing checks to dead people. Our legislation will cut through government red tape and deliver real reforms to prevent waste, fraud and abuse of tax dollars by streamlining the way federal agencies share information. I’m proud to be working with Democrats and Republicans to solve this problem.”

Original cosponsor Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-MT) adds:

“The federal government makes billions of dollars in improper payments each year, including Social Security payments to deceased beneficiaries. This bipartisan measure will slash through red tape in the federal bureaucracy to reduce waste, fraud, and abuse and protect taxpayer money. We must give the Social Security Administration more tools to ensure the federal government isn’t paying benefits to deceased people.”

Senate sponsor Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) adds:

“As government officials, one of our most important responsibilities is to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars. That’s why, for years, I have worked across the aisle to assess federal government spending and eliminate billions of taxpayer dollars in waste, fraud and abuse. But there is still work to be done because we know that year after year, the federal government continues to mismanage billions of dollars through improper payments. [This bill] would provide federal agencies with the most up-to-date data they need to prevent improper payments to deceased people. The money saved by these efforts can be put to good use, like funding health care programs or investing in our decades-old infrastructure. With a little hard work and bipartisanship, we can take the common sense steps necessary to reduce improper payments and put these funds to better use for the American people.”

The Project on Government Oversight (POGO) expressed its support for this bill in February 2018, when it was being considered in the 115th Congress:

“The ‘Stopping Improper Payments to Deceased People Act’ is important legislation that would curb waste and fraud involving federal payments… A major portion of wasteful government spending is a broad category known as ‘improper payments,’ which are payments made in the wrong amount, to the wrong people, or for the wrong reason. Each year, federal improper payments result from insufficient financial accountability, and divert dollars from where they are needed. One significant cause of improper payments is payments made by federal agencies to individuals who are deceased. According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), not all federal agencies have access to the complete list of deceased individuals maintained by the Social Security Administration (SSA). Instead, when checking eligibility for federal payments, many agencies can only use a partial list and so mistakenly pay millions of deceased people. For example, the Department of Agriculture and the Federal Emergency Management Agency can only use the partial list, resulting in improper payments to dead program beneficiaries. Stopping Improper Payments to Deceased People Act follows the GAO’s recommendation to provide agencies with access to the full death list maintained by the SSA.”

This bill has nine bipartisan House cosponsors, including five Democrats and four Republicans, in the 116th Congress. A Senate companion bill, sponsored by Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), has eight bipartisan Senate cosponsors, including five Democrats, two Republicans, and one Independent.

In the 115th Congress, this bill had 14 bipartisan House cosponsors, including seven from each party, and didn’t receive a committee vote. The Senate version passed the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs with the support of 10 bipartisan Senate cosponsors, including six Democrats, three Republicans, and one Independent.

When this bill was introduced in 2018, it was supported by American Commitment, Americans for Tax Reform, Coalition to Reduce Spending, FreedomWorks, National Taxpayers Union, Project on Government Oversight, 60 Plus Association, Taxpayers for Common Sense, Taxpayers Protection Alliance.


Of NoteUnder current law, only federal agencies that directly manage programs making beneficiary payments have access to complete death data, so most federal agencies rely on a slimmed-down, incomplete and less timely version of the Death Master File. This results in many federal agencies making erroneous payments to people who are actually deceased.

Improper payments have been a frequent criticism of wasteful spending in government. In 2015, a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report estimated that federal agencies disbursed nearly $125 billion in improper payments to ineligible recipients in FY 2014. In FY 2016, it was estimated that improper payments throughout the federal government total over $144 billion. While the Trump administration hasn’t published a government-wide improper payment rate for FY 2017, the GAO and others report that the improper payment rate is essentially unchanged, at $141 billion.

In a 2011 report, the Office of Personnel Management Inspector General found that $601 million in improper payments were made to federal retirees who’d died over the previous five years. In one case, the SSA made $381,000 in payments through 2018 to the account of a beneficiary who died in 1974.

In 2015, Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) released a report, “Federal Fumbles: 100 Ways the Government Dropped the Ball,” in which he noted that an analysis of SSA files showed approximately 6.5 million people aged 112 or older as still alive — which Sen. Lankford’s office termed “an unlikely probability.” For context, historical databases indicate that there are fewer than 100 living people on Earth over the age of 112.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / BackyardProduction)

AKA

Stopping Improper Payments to Deceased People Act

Official Title

To amend the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Improvement Act of 2012, including making changes to the Do Not Pay Initiative, for improved detection, prevention, and recovery of improper payments to deceased individuals, and for other purposes.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Ways and Means
    IntroducedMay 7th, 2019
    Why the Devil 😈 Shouldn’t INFORMATION Be Provided to All Agencies? Improper payments to deceased people cost the federal government and, by extension, taxpayers. This form of government waste could be reduced by giving all federal agencies access to the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File, which is the most up-to-date list of deaths in the U.S. SneakyPete..... 👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻. 5.31.19.....
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    Absolutely not. I, for one, don't want ALL federal agencies involved in monitoring anymore about me than is absolutely needed. Appropriate agencies already have or should have access. Why would other agencies need this information? I think that this bill is meaningless and cannot figure out why it was even proposed. Since there is no obvious reason that I can surmise, I have to believe that it is proposed for some hidden reason, to the benefit of someone or something else. I'm sorry, but until I see realistic action to hold the current power-abusers and great-deceivers accountable, I am suspicious of of any legislation that does not address clearly needed changes.
    Like (35)
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    All? Only the agencies that pay benefits need access to the Death file. USGS doesn’t need the death file. DOD, EPA, GaF... there are more agencies that Don’t need it than do. No. This is way to broad. And yes I see it says “relevant” here on countable,but GO READ THE ACTUAL BILL.
    Like (29)
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    Absolutely not. I'm sorry but too much of our personal information is being shared with agencies that shouldn't have it. How the hell do we know if these agencies and it's employees can be trusted with the info. Why the hell doesn't Soc. Sec. do a better job of keeping track of beneficiaries? At the time of a recipient's death the system should purge that recipients information so that benefits cease being sent. If the Social Security Admin. doesn't do this, then it's their fault when unscrupulous people steal said benefits....
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    Hell yes we should I pay enough out of my pocket for welfare fraud and Workmen’s Comp. fraud if we can stop the zombies from getting into my pocket we should
    Like (13)
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    I believe there is great room for misuse and mistakes that would cause unnecessary harm and abuse. I have seen the irreparable harm caused when people maliciously or in a prank gone very wrong declare their family member or generally former friend dead. It’s a switch of really only one or two numbers in a computer but it is almost impossible to prove you are alive to our government. Talk about trying to prove a negative. If you had to do so to numerous agencies, it probably would kill you. Just say no..
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    Yes because benefits are not just paid by SSA. They are paid by military retirement, federal government retirement, VA disability payments. I imagine there are many more. If the funeral director does not report the death to the correct agencies or a family member with direct deposit anymore the checks just keep coming. If the not so honest family member doesn’t report it, well that is stealing.
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    It should ONLY be available as very limited information such as for verification of the death itself *only* to upgrade and update voting registries BY CERTIFIED WRITTEN REQUEST ONLY. DEFINITELY not a good idea to make it available to ALL.
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    The operative word here is “all”. It is not necessary.
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    The obituaries are public record, I see no problem with this.
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    Yes. If they are relevant agencies, then they should have the information to make decisions.
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    No, why would you open it to all agencies, why not have something in the system that gives a weekly notification of all issued death certificates to all agencies. If they fail to remove them their budget gets cut the amount that they allowed to be paid! Why is it that we make work around a for people that don’t do their job!!
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    Yes, and anyone found collecting money from someone who is dead where it hasn’t been set up legally such as benefits for widows and children; those should have to pay back or go to jail for fraud.
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    Only agencies who pay benefits need this information.
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    Since Social Security maintains the master file, SS should improve on their processes to ensure an accurate file. Then other agencies (associated with benefits) can have access to the file, but with limited needed data, i.e., name, ss # and date of death. There is no need for them to have access to all data.
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    Why does the ENTIRE federal government need access to this? Absolutely not.
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    Absolutely
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    Yes. What use is it to dead people
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    I was under the impression, that was or should be going on now..
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    Sure. I’m for anything that will crack down on waste, fraud & abuse. How about fully funding & staffing the CFPB & going after billionaire & corporate tax evaders?
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