OPM paying $600 million to dead people

Thursday - 9/22/2011, 4:40pm EDT

By Ruben Gomez
Reporter
Federal News Radio

The Office of Personnel Management has paid more than $600 million to deceased annuitants in the last five years.

Efforts to stop the flow of improper payments from the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund have not worked, said OPM Inspector General Patrick McFarland, in a new report. The payments since 2006 have averaged $120 million annually.

"At the end of FY 2006, total receivables resulting from payments to deceased annuitants totaled $66 million," the report said. "By the end of FY 2010, the total receivables totaled $113 million, an increase of 70 percent."

OPM has taken a number of steps to address the problem, including an annual computer match between its list of annuitants and the Social Security Administration's death records, said McFarland.

"In retrospect, however, these improvements were clearly only partial remedies at best," he said.

In 2009, the OPM checked its list of annuitants older more than 90 years old and found six of 125,000 people had died but were not indentified during checks of the SSA death records database.

"In addition, as of the December 2010 report on this project, 144 annuitants in the sample had not responded to letters of inquiry from OPM and their annuities were placed in a suspended payment status," the report said.

The IG's office first flagged the issue in a 2005 report.