Computer glitch leaving thousands without full social security checks : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread


Computer glitch leaving thousands without full Social Security checks

SACRAMENTO (AP) -- State officials say a computer glitch will leave thousands of elderly and disabled Californians with reduced Social Security checks this week.

A systems error in California Department of Health Services computers mistakenly dropped 16,400 people from a state program that pays their Medicare premiums, said Ken August, a spokesman for the agency.

That means Nov. 3 Social Security checks will be reduced by $136.50 -- equal to three months of Medicare premiums.

"It is a significant amount of money," said Social Security Administration spokesman Lowell Kepke, noting that the average retiree receives only $781 a month from Social Security. "I imagine we will be getting quite a few calls."

Officials at the state Department of Health Services and the SSA say they can't fix the reduced checks fast enough for recipients to get them on time.

Both agencies, however, say they are working overtime to notify recipients of the glitch, and get them full reimbursements.

Those receiving the slimmed-down checks are enrolled in a state program called In-Home Supportive Services, which provides house cleaning, shopping and care to low-income elderly and disabled Californians.

Several weeks ago, state employees were making changes to the program's computerized eligibility file when the error occurred, August said.

Instead of 300 recipients being marked as ineligible for Medicare support, about 16,400 extra recipients were added to the list, said Doug Porter, a deputy administrator for the state Department of Health Services.

The federal agency that oversees Medicare, the Health Care Financing Administration, was notified of the changes. Officials there concluded that those 16,400 people had taken advantage of Medicare services without paying for them since August, and owed the federal government money.

As a result, the Social Security Administration sent letters, dated Oct. 27, informing recipients that their checks would be reduced.

California and the SSA didn't realize the mistake until days later.

"These elderly and disabled beneficiaries are among the neediest of the needy," said one memo, written by Linda McMahon, SSA's California regional commissioner. "Asking them to wait this long for their benefits is unacceptable."

Porter said his agency has contacted county health departments, and plans to send letters to recipients by Tuesday explaining the snafu.

SSA officials plan to send $136.50 checks as soon as possible to the shortchanged beneficiaries, although they aren't sure when the money will arrive.

-- Homer Beanfang (, November 01, 1999


GOOD Where in the hell does it say in the U.S. Constittuion that the government is in the business in dolng out money. 20% of SSI people are foreigners who havent put in a dime. Let them eat cake.

-- fred (fred, November 01, 1999.

Yup, let them get a job. Was at the SSI office with my father-in-law a few years ago and 90% of the people in line were Hmong.

Pisses you off, doesn't it?

-- (, November 01, 1999.

Fred and UhHuh,

Please crawl back under your rocks. Thanks so very much.

-- b (, November 01, 1999.

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