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US disbursed $601m to dead people, report says

By Ed O’Keefe
Washington Post / September 24, 2011

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WASHINGTON - The federal government pays out millions of dollars to dead people each year, including deceased retired federal workers, according to a report.

In the past five years, the Office of Personnel Management has made more than $601 million in benefits payments to deceased federal annuitants, according to the agency’s inspector general. Total annual payouts range between $100 million and $150 million.

Inspector General Patrick McFarland, who previously reported on the improper payments in 2005 and 2008, urged the agency to more closely track such mistakes. “It is time to stop, once and for all, this waste of taxpayer money,’’ he wrote in the report.

Improper payments to dead retirees increased 70 percent in the past five years, far higher than the 19 percent climb in overall annuity payments, the report said.

The payments are on the rise because the agency is doing a poor job of tracking potential cheats, McFarland said. In one case, a deceased annuitant’s son continued receiving federal benefits until 2008, 37 years after his father’s death. OPM learned about the improper payments, which exceeded $515,000, only after the son died. The agency never recovered the money.