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Dead People Received Social Service Benefits

by Christine Stuart | Sep 29, 2011 3:53pm
(0) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Town News, State Budget

(Updated 5:18 p.m.) An audit of the Department of Social Services covering the 2008 and 2009 fiscal years found that supplemental state assistance or “cash” benefits were paid after the death of the individuals.

For eight of the 20 cash benefit recipients tested, the auditors found that monthly benefits totaling $1,457 were issued after their death.

“In all eight instances, receivables were not created so that the established procedures could be used to recoup the overpayments. There were excess payments made for one month in six cases and for two months in two cases,” the report released at 3 p.m. Thursday found.

In the case of all 20 recipients, transportation payments totaling $680 were paid in the months following their death and the agency has not attempted to recover the overpayments.

“The number of improper monthly transportation payments consisted of excessive payments of three months in three cases, two months in four cases, and one month in 13 cases,” the auditors found.

The report concluded that improper payments totaling $2,137 were made and DSS made no attempt to recover them. Currently the department doesn’t have a process to recoup transportation payments that are made after the death of a recipient, the auditors found.

The Department of Social Services didn’t disagree with the auditors’ findings.

“We generally agree with the findings and recommendation,” DSS wrote in the report. “It should be noted that in 4 of the 20 cases reviewed, benefits issued after death of the client were subsequently wholly or partially expunged from these clients’ EBT accounts. In one case, benefit checks issued after the death of the client were not cashed and became stale dated.”

The EBT accounts are the ATM-like cards used to distribute cash assistance to clients.

The audit goes on to point out at least 21 areas of concern within the department and the financial controls deployed by the department.

According to the auditors report, not only has the agency made errors in distributing funds, but its also done a lousy job of collecting money its owed.

Medical receivables greater than one year, with no activity in the past year totaled $17.58 million. Some of those accounts were established as much as 28 years ago. Drug rebate receivables greater than one year old totaled about $5.1 million and were originally established up to 10 years earlier.

“The Department initiated a formal process of issuing letters to providers with account receivables in order to document three attempts to collect the outstanding receivable. After the third documented attempt to collect, the Department refers these cases to the Department of Administrative Services, Delinquent Accounts Unit,” DSS writes in response to the auditors recommendation.

It says it received permission to write-off about $1.95 million in receivables it didn’t believe it would be able to collect.

In other instances, DSS which is responsible for making sure individuals who receive assistance are eligible to receive that assistance.

The auditors found that in looking at the State Administered General Assistance program, which gives health benefits to very low-income and disabled individuals, that there were two instances in which proper documentation to determine eligibility was not on file even though the two sampled received benefits.

In one instance, DSS determined that a client was fraudulently collecting SAGA cash benefits for the period of June 2007 through January 2008.

“The client moved to Florida in June 2007 and was still collecting SAGA cash from Connecticut until January 2008. DSS discontinued the client’s benefits as of January 2008. However, DSS did not recoup benefits for the period of June 2007 through December 2007 amounting to $1,442,” the auditors found.

The department agreed with that finding and recommendations to improve on eligibility determinations.

The auditors also found out that DSS paid $12,629 and $254,925 in monthly payments under HUSKY B and Charter Oak Health Care in April 2009 for 1,518 clients who had not paid their monthly premiums. The two health care plans are managed by the state which pays a per member, per month fee to three Managed Care Organizations. Residents qualify for the program based on a sliding income scale.

The agency said it has moved to pre-payment of premiums for all Charter Oak recipients, but it believes it acted appropriately regarding the HUSKY payments. It said those rules are based on guidelines established by the federal Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services.

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