Retirement Security:

Inaccurate Fund Transfers Between Social Security Administration and Railroad Retirement Board

HRD-83-2: Published: Apr 4, 1983. Publicly Released: Apr 4, 1983.

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GAO reviewed the financial interchange whereby the Social Security Administration (SSA) has paid more than $17 billion to the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) since 1958.

In reviewing 1979 financial interchange data, the current data available when the GAO review began, GAO found errors and inaccuracies in benefit calculations, projections, and administrative expense estimates resulting from SSA overpayments and underpayments. GAO estimates that, for the 1979 interchange alone, SSA transferred to RRB about $40 million more than it should have. Since many of the same procedures GAO questioned are still in effect, interchanges subsequent to 1979 will continue to contain errors and inaccuracies unless improvements are made.

Status Legend:

More Info
  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: The Chairman of RRB and the Secretary of HHS should ensure that their respective audit groups singly or jointly periodically audit all components of the financial interchange.

    Agency Affected: Department of Health and Human Services

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of HHS should direct the Commissioner of Social Security, in cooperation with the Chairman of RRB, to coordinate their action to develop appropriate cost and workload factors for use in calculating the interchange administrative expense estimates.

    Agency Affected: Department of Health and Human Services

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of HHS should direct the Commissioner of Social Security, in cooperation with the Chairman of RRB, to correct all amounts transferred due to administrative expense errors affecting past interchanges where supporting data are available.

    Agency Affected: Department of Health and Human Services

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Chairman of RRB should direct that a composite estimator be used to calculate the average benefit amount for the RRB sample cases.

    Agency Affected: Railroad Retirement Board

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: In subsequent official notification, both RRB and HHS advised GAO that, based on addtional discussions, they will not accept this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of HHS should direct the Commissioner of Social Security, in cooperation with the Chairman of RRB, to lower the error tolerance limits applied to financial interchange sample calculations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Health and Human Services

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of HHS should direct the Commissioner of Social Security to train RRB personnel who calculate social security benefits in the proper application of social security rules and regulations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Health and Human Services

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) should direct the Commissioner of Social Security to periodically review how accurately RRB calculates social security benefit amounts.

    Agency Affected: Department of Health and Human Services

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Chairman of RRB and the Secretary of HHS should ensure that their respective audit groups singly or jointly periodically audit all components of the financial interchange.

    Agency Affected: Department of Health and Human Services

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

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