Nearly $1.4 billion of President Donald Trump’s coronavirus stimulus checks went to the deceased, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO).
In their report, the GAO wrote, “The agencies faced difficulties delivering payments to some individuals, and faced additional risks related to making improper payments to ineligible individuals, such as decedents, and fraud.”
They added, “For example, according to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, as of April 30, 2020, almost 1.1 million payments totaling nearly $1.4 billion had gone to decedents.”
Later in their report, the GAO said that the error was in part because the Social Security Act does not give death records to the Treasury and the Bureau of Fiscal Service (BFS) — though BFS was provided “temporary access to the full death data” on the “fourth batch of payments.”
They recommended that Congress “consider amending the Social Security Act to explicitly allow SSA to share its full death data with Treasury for data matching to prevent payments to ineligible individuals.”
This is not the first time that people who have died have received stimulus checks. In 2010 an inspector general’s report found that 89,000 of the 2009 stimulus checks went to the dead under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), a Republican who has blistered with President Trump, raised the issue of those who have died receiving stimulus checks in mid-April.
The Kentucky Republican said that a friend texted him to say that his father, who died in 2018, had received a government stimulus check. Massie called the error “just the tip of the iceberg.”
Ok this is insane, but just the tip of the iceberg. This is a direct text to me from a friend. I called to confirm this actually just happened. pic.twitter.com/GBRPcmYMXW— Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) April 15, 2020
The IRS said in early May, “A payment made to someone who died before receipt of the payment should be returned to the IRS.”
But there is a bright spot — the 2010 inspector general’s report on the Obama stimulus checks found that around half of the checks sent to those who had died were returned. Though those checks were for only $250 while the coronavirus stimulus checks were for $1,200.