Guest Editorial Week of 3/8/2021

Adam Andrzejewsk/

Feds need to claw back more

Last June, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that Uncle Sam sent $1.4 billion in COVID relief funds to a million dead people. They’ve asked for it back, but dead people are notoriously bad about paying up. The federal government is equally bad about clawing it back.
The year before COVID hit, dead people received $871.9 million in mistaken payments through Medicaid, Social Security, the federal pension system, and even through farm subsidies.
That figure was part of $175 billion in “improper payments” in FY2019. And that’s only the payments that the top 20 largest federal agencies admitted to – as detailed in our report at
That’s about $15 billion per month, $500 million per day, and $1 million a minute to the wrong person, in the wrong amount, or for the wrong reason. The 16-year improper payments total: a whopping $2.3 trillion.
Of the $175 billion sent to the wrong (or the dead) folks: Uncle Sam recaptured only $21.1 billion, roughly 14 cents on every misspent dollar. Over five years, federal agencies clawed back only $104 billion of the $748 billion sent in error.
Our auditors suggest looking at Social Security’s list of six million Americans age 112 -years old. One estimate says that the headcount of Americans 110 -years only numbers between 60-70!


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