Approximately 14,470 students may have been underpaid $59.5 million in Social Security benefits, according to estimates from a recent audit conducted by the Social Security Office of the Inspector General.
The organization, which provides independent oversight of the Social Security Administration’s programs and operations, conducted an investigation to determine if the government agency continued to provide benefits to children who reached the age of 18 and were still in school.
An investigation revealed that 87 out of 100 students did not receive their benefits as they should have upon turning 18. This resulted in underpayments of $358,872
On the basis of these findings, the Social Security Office of the Inspector General estimates that the agency underpaid approximately $59.5 million to 14,470 beneficiaries.
In addition, the report provided recommendations on how the SSA can better ensure that beneficiaries receive their rightful benefits. The Social Security Administration has accepted the recommendations, according to the report.
Children under 18 and unmarried who are eligible for Social Security benefits if their parents are receiving disability, retirement, or survivor benefits.
If they are students or have a disability, they may still be eligible for benefits after turning 18. Full-time students must attend an educational institution at least 20 hours per week in order to qualify as students. In addition, they must be no older than 19 years and 2 months.
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The report found that the students were overlooked due to a lack of controls in the SSA’s systems that manage information on beneficiaries and a lack of alerts informing Social Security employees that the students were still entitled to benefits.
The Social Security Inspector General’s Office has recommended that the agency update these systems and implement alerts.
In addition, the report recommends that Social Security take corrective action for the 87 beneficiaries identified during its investigation, as well as the additional 16,632 beneficiaries who may be affected. In addition, it requires training for Social Security employees so that eligible students continue to receive benefits after turning 18 years old.