Ebola Widow Gets Social Security

John Ransom
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Posted: Nov 13, 2014 12:01 AM

Get your questions about social security answered every week on the Social Security Show with John Ransom.

Because there are three things Ransom says you can count on 1) Death; 2) Taxes and 3) That everyone, someday will have questions about their own Social Security. 

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The number of tips for suspected Social Security fraud in the Kansas City area alone has almost doubled in recent years, according to the Social Security Administration's Office of the Inspector General. It’s so bad that the office says that they can’t even prosecute all the cases. Last year, the office received more than 3,200 tips of possible fraud. Agents investigated 600 cases, and the United States Attorney's Office prosecuted 90 of them.

Nearly 60,000 veterans collected more than $3.5 billion last year in military retirement pay, disability benefits from Veterans Affairs and disability checks from Social Security. That's according to a report by the Government Accountability Office. The arrangement is legal. But some lawmakers say the report shows the need for better coordination among government programs that are facing severe financial constraints. Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma requested the review. He says officials should fulfill promises to veterans but work to streamline duplicative programs.

Hundreds of former student's social security numbers were made available online Thursday in a School District in South Dakota. Officials say they believe it was due to an internal error rather than hackers. The breach was discovered after a student logged onto the district's server and was able to access her father's transcript.

The school previously used social security numbers as ID numbers for students who graduated from Sturgis Brown High School from 1997 to 2003. District officials say they are working to insure this doesn't happen in the future by eliminating social security numbers from transcripts.Former students are being contacted about the breach.

In response to the pending Social Security shortfall and retirement crisis, one Congressman has proposed a fix. Recently, Congressman Larson of Connecticut introduced the “Social Security 2100 Act.

The act would index social security to a special inflation index for retirees, as well as lift the income thresholds for taxable social security benefits. To pay for these benefit increases the act proposes to raise the payroll tax to 7.2% from the current rate of 6.2%

After months of delay, federal officials have approved Social Security benefits for the Twin Cities widow of one of the first Americans to die of Ebola. Decontee Sawyer of Coon Rapids had been unable to receive the benefits because of the red tape in obtaining her husband Patrick's remains and death certificate from the government of Nigeria, where he died in July.