Retirement Benefits:

Discrepancies in Benefits Paid by the Railroad Retirement Board for SSA

HRD-86-3: Published: Feb 5, 1986. Publicly Released: Feb 5, 1986.

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GAO surveyed 17 different types of data exchanges between the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) and the Social Security Administration (SSA), focusing on the benefit payments that RRB made on behalf of SSA.

GAO found that, although RRB and SSA developed a monitoring system (CSAUDIT) to verify the accuracy of payments RRB made on behalf of SSA to beneficiaries entitled to both railroad retirement and social security benefits, only 12 percent of the 190,000 identified payment discrepancies were reconciled. Most of the discrepancies remain unreconciled because: (1) RRB and SSA disagree about the adequacy of CSAUDIT as a reconciliation tool; and (2) neither agency has committed sufficient resources to reconcile the increasing case backlog. RRB is unwilling to expend resources on what it believes to be unnecessary and costly work, and SSA refers many CSAUDIT discrepancies to RRB that it could resolve. The review of discrepant cases and recent RRB and SSA data suggest that many beneficiaries have erroneously received substantial amounts for years. The delays in reconciling these discrepancies have led to extended periods of erroneous payments and situations where erroneous payments could not be remedied.

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, RRB, should require staff to develop written procedures for processing CSAUDIT discrepancies.

    Agency Affected: Railroad Retirement Board

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Formal written procedures for processing discrepancies were developed and incorporated in the RRB Retirement Claims Manual.

    Recommendation: The Commissioner of Social Security and the Chairman, RRB, should reconcile CSAUDIT discrepancies on a continuing and timely basis.

    Agency Affected: Railroad Retirement Board

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: An agreement has been reached between SSA and RRB to handle current CSAUDIT discrepancies.

    Recommendation: The Commissioner of Social Security and the Chairman, RRB, should reconcile CSAUDIT discrepancies on a continuing and timely basis.

    Agency Affected: Social Security Administration

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: An agreement has been reached between SSA and RRB to handle current CSAUDIT discrepancies.

    Recommendation: The Commissioner of Social Security and the Chairman, RRB, should make specific resource commitments for reconciling CSAUDIT discrepancies.

    Agency Affected: Social Security Administration

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: RRB has made resource commitments to address current CSAUDIT discrepancies.

    Recommendation: The Commissioner of Social Security and the Chairman, RRB, should make specific resource commitments for reconciling CSAUDIT discrepancies.

    Agency Affected: Social Security Administration

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: SSA has made resource commitments to resolve current CSAUDIT discrepancies.

    Recommendation: The Commissioner of Social Security and the Chairman, RRB, should develop an interagency agreement by March 31, 1986, defining the responsibilities of each agency in reconciling CSAUDIT discrepancies and a timetable for reconciling the discrepancies.

    Agency Affected: Social Security Administration

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: SSA indicated no action will be taken since it feels it will not be cost effective.

    Recommendation: The Commissioner of Social Security and the Chairman, RRB, should develop an interagency agreement by March 31, 1986, defining the responsibilities of each agency in reconciling CSAUDIT discrepancies and a timetable for reconciling the discrepancies.

    Agency Affected: Railroad Retirement Board

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: RRB indicates no action will be taken since it feels it will not be cost effective.

    Recommendation: The Chairman, RRB, should assign responsibility for strengthening internal controls, particularly controls aimed at preventing misplaced files and promoting payment accuracy, to the new Bureau of Quality Assurance.

    Agency Affected: Railroad Retirement Board

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Associate Executive Director for Retirement Claims, RRB, initiated a review of internal controls for processing CSAUDIT discrepancies.

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