Report Summary

Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General

June 2009

Benefit Payments Mailed to Post Office Boxes



To determine the appropriateness of multiple Old-Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance (OASDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefit payments mailed to the same Post Office (P.O.) Box.


In December 2008, about 51 million individuals received OASDI benefits, and 8 million individuals received SSI payments.  The Social Security Administration (SSA) issued approximately 49 million of these payments via direct deposit and about 10 million payments via paper check.  During the audit, we identified 277,682 P.O. Boxes that were used to receive checks mailed to 2 or more numberholders.  This audit focused on payments mailed to these P.O. Boxes.

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Our Findings

We reviewed approximately 1,300 instances where SSA sent multiple benefit payments to the same P.O. Box and found that most payments appeared appropriate.  However, during the audit, we identified erroneous and—in two cases—potentially fraudulent OASDI and/or SSI payments that resulted in approximately $161,000 in improper payments and will result in about $31,000 in additional questionable payments over the next 12 months if these discrepancies are not addressed.  During the audit, SSA addressed most of our audit findings.

Our Recommendations

We recommended, and SSA agreed, to correct 47 instances we identified where incorrect OASDI unearned income amounts were reflected on beneficiaries’ SSI records.