Improper Payments Resulting from Unresolved Delayed Claimants

Friday, February 7, 2014
Report Number: 
Report Type: 
Audit Report
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Auxiliary and survivor claimants who have filed a claim but have not provided all the required evidence of eligibility are placed in a delayed payment status.

SSA considers delayed claimants entitled when it computes benefit payments for currently entitled beneficiaries on the same record. This protects delayed claimants from losing benefits and prevents overpayments to currently entitled beneficiaries if SSA subsequently determines the delayed claimants are entitled. If, however, the delayed claimant is denied, the benefit payments to the entitled beneficiaries are increased.

In a 2009 audit, we found that SSA did not always take appropriate action to resolve delayed auxiliary or survivor claimants. We estimated that if SSA approved the delayed claimants, the auxiliary or survivor claimants on 5,680 records would be due about $29.6 million and, if not approved, SSA improperly paid the currently entitled auxiliary beneficiaries on 6,680 records about $22 million.

The objective of this report was to determine whether the Social Security Administration (SSA) had adequate controls to ensure it resolved delayed claimants and paid benefits due all affected beneficiaries.