The Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported to the Congress on the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) track record of screening, selecting, and monitoring organizational representative payees for disabled beneficiaries. The GAO concluded SSA needs to improve its oversight. It made nine recommendations, with which SSA agreed. The report noted SSA is transitioning to a new review process pursuant to 2018 legislation requiring SSA to award grants to state protection and advocacy systems to conduct on-site reviews. The efficacy of the current grantee, the National Disability Rights Network, was not assessed because it was too early in its implementation.
SSA’s Office of the Inspector General estimated that $33.5 million in benefits for 20,878 beneficiaries was misdirected from January 2013 through May 2018 because of unauthorized direct deposit changes made through mySocial Security. But the good news is that the OIG also estimated that, from January 2013 through May 2018, SSA prevented $23.9 million in benefits from being misdirected from19,662 beneficiaries whose direct deposit account was changed without their authorization.
According to SSA’s Office of the Inspector General, SSA’s policy states that remands should be processed as a priority workload. Hearing offices are required to flag remands when they are docketed into the hearing office and assign them immediately to an ALJ for review. But are these remands given priority? The OIG’s sample analysis found some remands took longer to process because they were not always input in the hearing office’s master docket or were stalled at other stages. The OIG made several recommendations, including defining “priority” and measuring processing times according to the definition.
SSA’s Office of the Inspector General found that SSA did not consistently apply income averaging rules when determining whether a recipient was performing substantial gainful activity (SGA). It recommended SSA establish objective criteria for staff to follow when averaging earnings to minimize inequity and unfairness it its determinations.
SSA requires that representative payees establish and maintain separate dedicated bank accounts for underpayments to SSI recipients under the age of 18 that are more than six times the monthly Federal Benefit Rate. See, e.g., POMS SI 02101.010. SSA’s Office the Inspector General (OIG) found that SSA lacks adequate controls to ensure representative payees establish dedicated accounts or issue the installment payments to the dedicated accounts in six-month intervals. The OIG recommended SSA identify and pay those recipients with unpaid underpayments. It also recommended SSA improve its controls to ensure it timely pays dedicated account underpayments.