"There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with
power to endanger the public liberty." - - - - John Adams

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Night of the Living Dead - Washington D.C. Version

They say there is nothing closer to eternal life than a Federal Program. 

Now Federal employees get paid after death.  But who said they could stop working?  As long as they are being paid I say raise the dead and put them back to work.

Federal retirees often enjoy generous pensions, but some manage to keep getting paid even after they’re dead and buried.  Each year, investigators uncover dozens of cases of federal retirees or their spouses continuing to collect retirement checks after death, records obtained by the Washington Times through the Freedom of Information Act show.

Usually, relatives, friends or caretakers take the checks and cash them, hoping the government won’t notice. Many of the thieves face criminal charges once caught, but not all of them end up before a judge. And in some cases, years pass before the fraud comes to light.

Dead.  That is no excuse for not working.  I say
as long as they are getting a pension we need to raise
the dead and put them back to work.
 But some suspects manage to avoid criminal prosecution because the statute of limitations runs out or because prosecutors simply decline to press charges.

In one recent example, the wife of a deceased U.S. Postal Service employee entitled to collect retirement pay died in 1997, but the benefits continued for another nine years, resulting in more than $170,000 in overpayments. The woman, a resident of a nursing home in Texas, had a man handling her finances who had signed paperwork agreeing to “promptly notify the Office of Personnel Management” of her death. But that didn’t happen.

Instead, the case fell through the cracks. After the investigator for OPM’s Inspector General left the office, the case “had not been investigated further since February 2009 due to a lack of resources and higher priority agency cases,” a May 11 memo closing the case states. The statute of limitations, which gives officials five years to bring a case after learning about a possible fraud, eventually ran out.

Taxpayer watchdogs say the post-death payouts highlight a broader problem of improper payments by the federal government that involve Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, retirement and other programs costing taxpayers billions of dollars. A 2009 report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), noted that federal agencies reported about $72 billion in improper payments during fiscal 2008, with Medicaid accounting for nearly $19 billion alone.

Zombie government worker or SEIU member?
Is there really a difference?
 “We know improper payments are rampant,” said Leslie Paige, spokeswoman for the D.C.-based Citizens Against Government Waste. “Now that we’ve got this gigantic debt and unprecedented deficits, you would hope that this would be a big issue for people. We’re bleeding money.”

From January 2009 through March 2011, the inspector general for OPM uncovered fraud in more than 160 cases involving retirement payments for federal workers or their spouses who were dead. More than one-fourth of those cases were declined for prosecution, according to records reviewed by The Times. In a few cases, the statute of limitations ran out, while in others a suspect died before the investigation ended.

But most of the suspects end up in court, where prison sentences are common. One of the bigger cases in recent years involved the son of two deceased federal employees who continued receiving federal retirements checks he was not supposed to get for eight years. By the time the government took notice and halted the payments, $427,754 had been paid out.

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