Instances of pension fraud have become increasingly common whether intentional or due to ignorance. Consequently, the reinterpretation of section 205(r) has placed retirement plan administrators at greater risk because the Social Security Administration no longer releases complete and timely data including all deaths known to them. Cases are fraud are being reported at an alarming rate. Millions of dollars are going to those not entitled.
States that have been deeply impacted by the reduced SSA Death Master File records:
- New Jersey
- New York
- Rhode Island
*These states do not make their vital records available to legitimate companies that handle death audit solutions.
Continual effort to restore the DMF is vital.
PBI’s most recent request to the SSA to restore the DMF outlined the unintended consequences to Americans in the following industry segments:
- Pension Plans (Government and Corporate Defined Benefit Plans): PBI detailed the impact on pension funding deficits and the PBGC’s viability to support plans entrusted to them. Bottom line, no plan can afford to pay benefits to dead people!
- Protecting Life Insurance Beneficiaries: California’s state controller has taken a leadership position in reaching settlement agreements with 27 of the largest insurance companies to utilize the SSA DMF.
- Reducing fraud for SSA, Medicare and Medicaid
- Reducing fraud for FHA and HUD entitlements
The SSA’s Response:
“I understand your frustration because your organization is doing vital work in preventing improper payments. However, Congress would need to amend the Section 205(r) of the Social Security Act. The decision was made by Social Security Administration (SSA) Headquarters legal staff, which is the highest level in SSA.”
Restoring the DMF is the obvious solution.
PBI has taken on the challenge to educate Congress on the unintended consequences, with little traction. We will continue to present the importance of making this information available to prevent public pension fraud. No state is immune to their retirees dying in other states with closed records and their death data not making it into the SSA DMF.