Government benefit fraud

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, August 27, 2014

This week it was reported that a Kiln woman was arrested for collecting 11 years worth of governmental benefits on behalf of her deceased mother.

Payments over the course of those years totaled $75,325.

This theft was from the government coffers, money that came from our pockets, the taxpayers. The funds could have been issued to truly needy person, or used in other federal programs.

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For her part in the crime, 49-year-old Virginia Edelman was sentenced to 21 months in prison, and will be required to pay back the funds she illegally collected.

She should be required to pay the money back, but given the fact she already accepted payments that were not hers indicates she may not be able to pay that money back in a timely manner, if at all. And for those 21 months she is in prison, she will not be employed, and therefore will not be making payments.

The problem with this case is not just that she failed to report the continued payments after her mother’s passing, the Social Security Survivor’s Insurance Benefits program allowed the payments to continue. In this day and age it is expected that such a benefit program would have been alerted to her death, and subsequently stopped the payments.

It’s failures such as these in the various government programs and systems that allow continued payments even after a death has occurred.

Human error is a factor in many facets of today’s government, just like with past governments. But technological advancements should allow for the implementation of automated systems to end payments when the beneficiary passes.

Hopefully, this case is a learning curve for the Social Security Administration, and will put protective measures in place to prevent future fraud.