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In response to a congressional request, the GAO reported on the need for the Social Security Administration (SSA) to improve the information in its automated name and number files and to improve its social security number issuance process.
The GAO found that some of the information in the SSA name and number files is incomplete, inconsistent, or inaccurate. These files are used by SSA in issuing social security numbers, claims processing, resolving discrepancies, verifying identification information, and carrying out other important functions.
The name and number files should have only one individual associated with each number. However, the SSA number file has records that have the same number but the identifying information does not appear to represent the same person. SSA has identified and is correcting about 2.1 million such records. In addition, neither the name nor number files contain complete and accurate identifying information for all of the numbers issued. In some cases, records of original applications are missing or the information is incomplete or inaccurate.
Quality assessments show a continuous increase in the rate of errors found in identifying information. The inadequate training of newly hired [[employee]s contributed to the breakdown in the issuance process. Controls over applications in process and safeguards over blank cards were also inadequate. SSA is currently correcting some of these problems in its number file and is implementing a new SSA number application processing system. This system will replace the existing processes and channel all SSA number applications through one control process and subject this information to much closer scrutiny.