Improper Use of Elderly Individuals' Social Security Numbers

Tuesday, January 3, 2017
Report Number: 
Report Type: 
Audit Report
Office Affiliation: 

We issued this report to determine whether the (1) identities of elderly individuals were being misused for work purposes and (2) Social Security Administration (SSA) had controls in place to prevent and detect the misuse.

As part of the Annual Wage Reporting process, SSA verifies the name and Social Security number (SSN) included on Wage and Tax Statements (Form W-2) against the Numident to ensure the reported name and SSN is accurate before the information on the W-2s is posted to the Master Earnings File. When the Numident indicates a date of death is present, SSA places in the Earnings Suspense File (ESF) all wages reported the year after death and assigns an Earnings After Death Report indicator. SSA sends notices to the employers and employee to confirm employment.

Furthermore, when it appears excessive wages have been posted to a wage record, the numberholder can visit an SSA field office to disclaim the wages—often called scrambled wages. SSA then removes the scrambled wages from the individual’s earnings record and posts them to the ESF with a Scrambled Wage Earnings Discrepancy indicator that prevents the wages from being reposted to the same earnings record.