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Clerical Mistake Hits Home For Social Security Chief

Source: 401k via flickr

Inherent mistakes in the Social Security Administration’s so-called “Master Death File” recently hit home with it’s chief officer – resulting in a new call to fix the system.

Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue admitted Thursday that he, personally, has experienced “the horrible thing” Americans endure when the federal government falsely declares them dead.

“I’ve actually had, in one week, one of my closest relatives and one of my closest friends and neighbors (who both) were declared dead,” though both are very much alive, Astrue told a House Ways and Means subcommittee investigation hearing. “So I was right in the middle of it. It is a horrible thing to go through.”

The Master Death File was created through the Freedom Of Information Act back in the early 1980’s as a way to help curtail benefit fraud.  But, it does have it’s own flaws.

The Social Security Administration each year mistakenly lists about 14,000 living Americans in[to] the file.

The resulting consequences can be severe.

In the first in-depth examination of the unintended consequences of the death file, Scripps Howard News Service last year identified 31,931 Americans who were falsely listed as dead. These victims of clerical error described an Orwellian nightmare in which they were denied mortgages and student loans, refused credit cards, shut out of job interviews and suffered denial or cancellation of cell phone service.

Social Security death file mistakes hit home for chief of the agency » Standard-Times.

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