The Social Security Administration has paid more than $500,000 in benefits to sexual predators in recent years, according to a new report.
In 1999, a new law was enacted that prevented SSA from providing any benefits to individuals held in institutions as “sexually dangerous persons.” The agency’s inspector general found 18 people in this category collected a total of $523,987 in benefits from 2006 to 2014.
The individuals were being held involuntarily at “special commitment centers,” where sexual predators sometimes go at the end of their prison sentences when they are still deemed a danger to the public.
The IG’s findings likely only represented a portion of the cases of illegal payments. The auditor was following up on a 2012 report that found sexual predators at 23 commitment centers were receiving benefits. The IG contacted all 23 for information on the sexual predators at their facilities so they could compare their names against SSA payment data. Only eight of the centers responded, where the IG found 18 individuals were receiving benefits.
In several examples provided in the report, individuals provided false addresses to SSA so the agency would not find out they were being held at the centers.
“While benefit suspension provisions continued to apply to these individuals, SSA had not established a mechanism to ensure SCCs reported inmate information to SSA,” the IG found. “Consequently, SSA did not have the information it needed to prevent initiation of payments to these individuals.”
SSA has since suspended payments to all 18 individuals. The agency’s Office of Data Exchange said it will “encourage” the special commitment centers to provide information about confined individuals “in exchange for potential incentive payments.”
This article originally appeared in Government Executive.