Social Security Programs: Scope of SSA's Authority to Deny Benefits to Fugitive Felons and to Release Information About OASI and DI Beneficiaries Who Are Fugitive Felons Page: 2 of 5
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beneficiaries, in cases involving indictment or conviction for violent crimes.4 A more
detailed explanation of these findings and of the specific procedural requirements
that apply to these laws and regulations follows.
SSA is responsible for administering the SSI program, which is a welfare program
funded from general revenues that provides monthly cash assistance payments to
individuals in financial need who are aged, blind, or disabled.5 The SSI eligibility
requirements and benefit amounts are specified in the Social Security Act. SSA
estimates that in fiscal year 2002, payments of about $31.5 billion in SSI benefits will
be made to about 6.4 million individuals.
SSA also administers the OASI and DI programs, which are entitlement programs
funded from trust funds supported by taxes that workers pay on their wages. The
OASI program provides monthly cash retirement to workers and their dependents or,
when workers die, provides survivor benefits to the survivors. The DI program
provides monthly cash benefits to workers and their dependents when workers are
determined to be disabled. Criteria for entitlement to retirement and disability
benefits, and the benefit amount received, also are set by the Social Security Act and
are based, in part, on how long and how much workers have contributed to OASI and
DI trust funds. In 2002, the OASI and DI programs are expected to pay about $447
billion in benefits to about 46 million eligible workers, dependents, and survivors.
To administer the OASI, DI, and SSI programs, SSA retains information about each
individual with a SSN. The information provided to SSA about an individual may
begin shortly after that person's birth. Parents who apply for a SSN for their newborn,
for example, must provide such information as the child's full name, sex, date of
birth, citizenship, and mother's maiden name, which SSA keeps on file. When a
person starts working, SSA receives information from employers to establish a
lifetime history of the person's earnings. SSA collects more extensive information
about persons who apply for or are receiving OASI, DI, or SSI benefits, to enable it to
administer these benefit programs. For instance, to determine eligibility for SSI
disability benefits, SSA collects information on a person's income, resources, living
arrangements, and medical history. However, according to SSA, the agency has only
the most recent addresses of individuals who receive or who have applied for OASI,
DI, or SSI benefits.
Since its enactment in 1974, the Privacy Act has governed federal agencies', including
SSA's, disclosure of the personal information they maintain about individuals.
Generally, the Privacy Act prohibits federal agencies from disclosing to others,
4SSA also allows disclosure in cases of criminal activity involving Social Security programs or certain other federal programs.
5In addition to federal SSI benefits, states may provide supplementary payments. These payments vary, reflecting differences in
regional living costs as well as in living arrangements.
GAO-02-459R Denial of Benefits to Fugitive Felons
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United States. General Accounting Office. Social Security Programs: Scope of SSA's Authority to Deny Benefits to Fugitive Felons and to Release Information About OASI and DI Beneficiaries Who Are Fugitive Felons, text, February 27, 2002; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc298097/m1/2/: accessed February 17, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.