Preventing improper payments

Published: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 at 2:26 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 at 2:26 p.m.

Making proper Social Security and Supplemental Security Income payments is no game. But improving our accuracy has some similarities to a good football strategy. You've got to be strong on both defense and offense.

Social Security is committed to reducing improper payments. Our goal has always been to pay the right person the right amount at the right time. And we are highly successful at doing that.

In paying retirement, survivors and disability benefits to more than 55 million people each month, our accuracy rate is over 99 percent. When it comes to Supplemental Security Income — the means-tested program for elderly, disabled and blind people who have limited income and resources — our payment accuracy is about 91 percent.

As with a good game of football, we need a game plan to improve payment accuracy. Here is ours.

On offense, we check and recheck our benefit computations and recipient information. That's done at kickoff, before we ever make a payment.

On defense, we have game plans, or strategies, to collect funds back from the person we improperly paid, especially if the error was the result of a beneficiary failing or incorrectly reporting an event that affects his or her payment amount.

When an individual commits fraud in order to receive payments not due, we prosecute him or her to the fullest extent of the law.

We will continue to work on offense and defense in our efforts to perfect our game plan and to make each and every payment a touchdown.

Kay Louder is the district manager of the Social Security office in Gainesville.

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