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Old 09-05-2017, 10:59 AM
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Mary Pat Campbell
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DELAWARE

http://www.delawareonline.com/story/...3-k/610765001/

Quote:
The Wilmington Treasurer's Office paid the pension of a dead woman for more than 20 years, and the city is now out nearly $73,000 that it may not be able to get back.

According to a city audit obtained by The News Journal, the unnamed pensioner received spousal benefits from June 1974 until she died in November 1997. But the city continued to direct deposit money into her bank account every other week until officials learned of her death in June of last year.

Over two decades, Wilmington paid the deceased woman $72,966.60.

"It’s an extremely unusual occurrence," said City Treasurer Velda Jones-Potter.

The city has relied on a third-party vendor that cross-checked employee and pensioner information with death records and Social Security data on a semi-annual basis. Jones-Potter said this petitioner's death did not come up in those searches because it was not documented in Social Security records.

"In this case, it's apparent that her death was not reported until many years after it occurred," she said.

When the Treasurer's Office learned about the death, the city immediately stopped payments, according to Jones-Potter. But she does not know if the city will get its money back.

"It’s in the Law Department’s hands at this time," Jones-Potter said.

John Rago, deputy chief of staff for policy and communications for Mayor Mike Purzycki, who took office in January, would not say whether the city is pursuing a criminal investigation into whether someone was spending money from the dead woman's account.

....
Other Wilmington pensioners have received payment after death, although for much shorter time periods.

A recipient of spouse-beneficiary payments was paid $1,920.84 after their death in May 2015, the audit said. The city didn't learn of the person's passing until June 2016, according to the audit.

Doesn't sound like fraud, but what is going to happen more and more often as people without relatives & with direct deposit simply have the checks go in.

Quote:
....
The report suggests ways that governments can attempt to curb posthumous payments. It recommends regularly examining the population of recipients over 90 years old to "verify if they are still living" and increasing communication with recipients and their families to remind them of their responsibility to report deaths.

Wilmington's audit, conducted from July 2015 to June 2016, found other issues in the city's pension system.

There were errors and inconsistencies in files of new pensioners, the audit found, which creates "an increased risk that benefits are paid to ineligible pensioners."

One police pensioner was overpaid $1,679.08 due to "an error in benefit calculation," the audit said.

The city auditor also found that the Treasurer's Department has disregarded a recommendation that has been made since 2011 — that it should have a comprehensive policy and procedure manual. According to the audit, lacking such a document means the department is not meeting best practices.
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