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Database Error Costs Social Security Victims $500M 299

Hugh Pickens writes "The Washington Posts reports that the Social Security Administration has agreed to pay more than $500 million in back benefits to more than 80,000 recipients whose benefits were unfairly denied after they were flagged by a federal computer program designed to catch serious criminals. At issue is a 1996 law, which contained language later nicknamed the 'fleeing felon' provision, that said fugitives were ineligible to receive federal benefits. As part of its enforcement, the administration began searching computer databases to weed out people who were collecting benefits and had outstanding warrants. The searches captured dozens of criminals, including some wanted for homicide, but they also ensnared countless elderly and disabled people accused of relatively minor offenses such as shoplifting or writing bad checks and in some cases, the victims simply shared a name and a birth date with an offender." (Read more, below.)
"The lead plaintiff in the class-action suit, Rosa Martinez, 52, of Redwood City, Calif., was cut off from her $870 monthly disability benefit check in January 2008 because the system had flagged an outstanding drug warrant in 1980 for a different Rosa Martinez from Miami. Officials said it is difficult to estimate how many social security recipients might be affected by the agreement but said the number is fewer than 1 percent nationally. 'What's remarkable about this case is thesheer number of individuals who were unfairly denied benefits and the size of the financial settlement they will receive,' said David H. Fry of Munger, Tolles & Olson, one of the pro bono attorneys who represented victims."
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Database Error Costs Social Security Victims $500M

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  • by Profane MuthaFucka ( 574406 ) <> on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @05:24PM (#29044177) Homepage Journal

    when you make everybody do the job that the police are supposed to be doing. Who thought it would be a good idea for Social Security people to be screening criminals? (Newt Gingrich and his Contract on America congress in 1996, that's who). Screening criminals is what the police should be doing. What's next? Is the FBI going to be paving the roads?

  • by sycodon ( 149926 ) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @05:33PM (#29044257)

    Or the IRS and SSA enforcing Health Insurance regulations?

  • What a stupid law. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pavon ( 30274 ) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @05:36PM (#29044281)

    I'm not getting this law. First off, social security isn't some charity program, paid for by other taxpayers. It is money that the citizens/criminals paid into the system and deserve to get back, regardless of what else they have done in life. Besides, are we really doing ourselves a favor by denying ex-cons their own money that they need to survive in their old age?

    Furthermore, if it really is about current fugitives, then wouldn't the government love to know a mailing address for these people so they can arrest them, rather than just refusing SS payment?

  • by e9th ( 652576 ) <> on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @05:38PM (#29044297)
    Social Security benefits are paid regardless of where you live, which might be a country that can't/won't extradite you back to the U.S.
  • by AnAdventurer ( 1548515 ) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @07:39PM (#29045661)
    I found a customer at the bank I have a business account at is using my EIN as his SS# They give someone a mortgage to someone based on my s-corps financial filings (I guess). I looked into it, we can't get the house. The bank didn't seem to care much either.
  • by dwreid ( 966865 ) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @08:22PM (#29046075)
    I suppose by "re-used" you mean reissued. I currently have 3 illegal aliens using my SSN right now. I've spoken to the Social Security Administrtion. They know about these people. They confirmed it. They also told me that they can't do anything about it because they don't pass information to law enforcement agencies. I spend untold hours every year correcting entries into my credit reports from these lawbreaking, bad check writing, no bill paying assholes. It's a great system we have.
  • Re:How on earth... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @08:31PM (#29046137)


    Yes, let's.

    On the one hand, are you under some delusion that your health insurance company is somehow doing a better job? With greater reliability, efficiency, and accountability? Fewer errors, fewer denied valid claims?? Do you just take it on faith, or do you have any evidence at all that your insurance company is doing a better job?

    Whether you like it or not, the people actually paying the freight for health care in the US (us taxpayers) right now do have this thing called FREEDOM. And we have CHOICES we can make regarding health care.

    And people like you are all too willing to TAKE THAT FREEDOM OF CHOICE AWAY.


    So you can funnel more power to a corrupt and incompetent federal government that along with a Social Security Administration that can't properly identify criminals, gives us the TSA and the Wonderful Security Shell Game?

    We're supposed to trust the goverment that conducts warrantless wiretaps against us with OUR LIVES?

    We're supposed to give even more power to an ambitious charlatan who until the day he was elected was swearing up and down that 95% of us would see a tax CUT but is now going around trying to tax everything that moves and is about to start vacumming sofas looking for loose change?

    What the hell is going to get BETTER by turning health care over the the US government?

    Costs are going to be contained? Yeah, right. If you're really batshit insane enough think the US government is going to actually control the COST of anything like health care, I really want to know how on God's good Earth you can possibly come to that conclusion. Seeing the contorted "thought" processes it would take to come to that conclusion would be like watching a Chinese porn movie dubbed into Swahili - in reverse. It's so fucked up it's bound to be entertaining and hilarious.

    Yeah, sure.

    Putting the US government in charge of health care is a GOOD IDEA.

    Keep fooling yourself. Maybe one day reality will show up in your life.

  • by Attila Dimedici ( 1036002 ) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @08:48PM (#29046285)
    What is recent about it is leaders of the House actually saying that Congressmen(and women) can't be expected to read the bills they are voting on(and if they did read them they couldn't understand them).
  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @09:09PM (#29046467) Journal
    This seems so obvious, I wonder how many people in the USA have written to the candidates before elections saying that they will not vote for anyone who does not pledge to vote against any bill that he or she has not had time to read thoroughly. Passing no law is almost always better than passing a bad law.
  • by Dragonslicer ( 991472 ) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @10:22PM (#29046873)
    One of the best things I saw was a couple weeks ago when Bill Kristol was on The Daily Show. Kristol is completely opposed to government-run health care, but Jon Stewart talked him into saying how military personnel deserve and generally get the best health care possible. It was great to see such hypocrisy get nailed.

Don't tell me how hard you work. Tell me how much you get done. -- James J. Ling