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Gephardt: Utah congressman introduces bill to avoid ‘clumsy’ stimulus payments to dead people

By Matt Gephardt and Cindy St. Clair, KSL TV | Posted - Jul. 23, 2020 at 10:22 a.m.

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SANDY — A Utah congressman wants to make sure future stimulus money is not sent to dead people. That may sound obvious but as the KSL Investigators found, it was a problem worth more than $1 billion earlier this year.

The first time Congress passed a stimulus bill, a truly bizarre loophole sent checks to millions of dead Americans.

Rep. John Curtis wants to close that loophole.

KSL-TV first reported the issue back in May after hearing from dozens of Utahns who reported getting money for relatives who had died.

Some got direct deposits. Others, like Randy Malmstrom’s mother, got paper checks where you could see printed right on the front the word, “deceased,” indicating the U.S. Department of the Treasury should have known.

Later, an Inspector General report revealed the staggering numbers tied to this blunder: 1.1 million payments went to dead Americans, totaling $1.4 billion. The federal government has been scrambling ever since to try to recover as much of that money as it can.

Curtis told KSL he has a solution to make sure this does not happen again: get the feds to communicate better.

Death records are kept by the Social Security Administration and stimulus checks come from Treasury. Curtis introduced legislation that would require the Social Security Administration to share its death records with the Treasury.

The American taxpayer should never be on the hook for clumsy federal decision making.

–Rep. John Curtis

“The American taxpayer should never be on the hook for clumsy federal decision making,” Curtis said in a statement. “We could have saved the American people more than $1 billion if we had done our homework. This common-sense legislation gives our federal agencies the requisite tools to sync their data systems on the front-end versus scrambling for solutions to avoidable problems on the back-end.”

According to the Government Accountability Office, the Social Security Administration cannot share its death records without a law change.


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