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Report: Social Security Failing in Fighting Fraud

September 12, 2014

Washington, DC – Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee Chairman Sam Johnson (R-TX) called on the Acting Commissioner of Social Security to adopt the recommendations of the special report released today by the Social Security Administration Office Inspector General (SSA OIG) on Social Security’s failure to prevent recent disability fraud scandals.

“The Inspector General’s report confirms what I have always known – that Social Security has failed to make fighting fraud a top priority,” Johnson said. 

“Many changes, like improving computer system screening, could stop fraudsters when they walk in the door.  This is but one simple and commonsense solution to prevent the fleecing of the system and hard-working taxpayers,” added Johnson.

As an example, if Social Security had in place the predictive analytics they are developing now, they would have identified eighty to ninety percent of the bogus applications in the three big fraud scams in Puerto Rico, West Virginia and New York City.  In hearings before the Social Security Subcommittee, both private sector disability insurers and anti-fraud experts emphasized the importance of using up-front computer screening programs.

The report, requested by Chairman Johnson in a January Subcommittee hearing, found the “SSA has consistently promoted its increased anti-fraud efforts in the past year, but these efforts do not go far enough to address the fact that the Agency’s outdated and unintegrated systems and policies have not be able to prevent or easily identify wide-spread fraud schemes” and that “…major fraud vulnerabilities still exist and must be addressed with broad system enhancements and significant policy changes.” 

The report recommends that Social Security should: invest in predictive analytics tools to identify claims likely to be fraudulent; invest in a comprehensive searchable system of records to identify and review trends in claims with common characteristics; modernize disability policy to reflect advances in medicine and technology; continue oversight of performance and productivity of Administrative Law Judges; and make all efforts to allocate resources to clear the continuing disability review backlog. 

“Unfortunately, crime pays in the disability world because Social Security has failed to stop fraud by taking such steps as modernizing its systems, its penalties, or its rules on who can work in today’s modern era of medicine and technology,” added Johnson.  “That’s why I call on the Commissioner to implement the Inspector General’s recommendations now, and why I’ve introduced the Stop Disability Fraud Act of 2014 which makes fair, common sense changes to combat fraud and better protect taxpayers and beneficiaries.  Americans want, need, and deserve no less.”