Federal pension payments follow some retirees into the grave

June 6, 2011

By Jim McElhatton-The Washington Times

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 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.

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 Serviceemployee 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.

In another case, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Florida declined to prosecute a man who collected more than $40,000 in retirement benefits paid to the spouse of a federal employee after her 2003 death, records show. The man, whose name was redacted in documents provided to The Washington Times, told an investigator he knew he was supposed to tell the government about beneficiary’s death, but he didn’t bother.

“Due to lack of … employment, he didn’t really care to make any notification because he needed the money,” investigators wrote in an internal memo summing up the case.

To read more, visit: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/jun/5/federal-pension-payments-follow-some-retirees-grav/


1 Comment - what are your thoughts?

  • Arthur W says:

    This is news? This is some kind of governmental disaster? This article is just an effort to bash the government… I guess trying to show incompetence of some sort.. Another effort by right wing conservatives to somehow blame governmental workers.. The article states –> “Each year, investigators uncover dozens of cases of federal retirees or their spouses continuing to collect retirement checks after death, records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act show.” Dozens? In a country of 300 million plus? He complains about dozens?
    So what is this writers solution? Remove pensions from retired government workers? Save our national debt on the backs of retirees who have worked their lives for our country after being promised a pension? This tactic of blaming middle class workers disgusts me and most good Americans.. Keep this kind of garbage up.. Don’t bring up the trillions we are pouring into wars that will provide American citizens NOTHING.. Just focus on the elderly.. retired gov’t workers.. elderly on medicare.. Keep the hate flowing.. The writing is on the wall.. You had a chance after the 2010 elections and you’re blowing it on ignorant self-destructive hate issues. I’ll be glad to see the Democrats win big in 2012.

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