Social Security Error: Pension Pay Outs to the Deceased

In a shock discovery by the Tribunal de Cuentas (Accounts Tribunal), it would appear that not even death

In a shock discovery by the Tribunal de Cuentas (Accounts Tribunal), it would appear that not even death is cause enough for Social Security to stop pension payments. It has been reported that in the year 2014, Social Security erroneously made monthly payments to some 29.321 persons who had already been registered by the Civil Registry as deceased. This means that an approximate sum of 25,2 million euros was paid out each month to the accounts of people who should obviously not be receiving it. The situation was not resolved by 2015 as 27.860 continued to be registered as pensioners on Social Security’s database.

How has this major mistake not been detected sooner? The Tribunal de Cuentas describes the situation as “chaotic” in their report because even though this information should be readily available by means of daily digital cross information with the Ministry of Justice. Besides this daily update of public record, the Instituto Nacional de Estadística (National Statistics Institute) sends a monthly report and pensioners who reside outside the country are required to confirm they are still alive on an annual basis.

There is information pending input in the database and the methods used by Social Security to cross reference data received against the general database of registered pensioners is obviously deficient as there is no set protocol about how it should be handled, leading to this ridiculous situation. Each provincial office acts independently and carries out their own checks but with different results even though some do not rely on digital data and also manually contrast information against civil registries, Town Halls, cemeteries and even contact relatives.

As would be expected when explanations have been demanded of the Administration, these allegations have been universally denied and Fátima Báñez, Minister of Employment and Social Security has stated that every precaution is taken and information is verified by means of four independent methods, making it impossible for this situation to even occur but at the same time, she also said that any undue payments can be claimed back by Social Security, therefore removing the risk of losing precious public resources.

My concern here is, if these allegations are in fact true, why were these payments not automatically rejected by the banks? I would presume that upon death, any bank accounts in these deceased pensioners names would have been duly closed by relatives not long after. If all information is contrasted on a daily, monthly and annual basis, how has this major flaw in the system not been detected much sooner? Will Social Security ensure this embarrasing situation is resolved before the end of this year?

As we all know, Social Security is extremely lacking in resources which has led to many changes in legislation to compensate so this issue can only be classed as one of gross negligence on their part and one that will have serious consequences in the short-term.

Watch this space as I’m sure this will be plenty talked about over the next few months.


About Sabrina L. Williams

Although I was born in the UK, I moved to the Canary Islands, Spain at a young age and I haven't looked back. The Canaries is a fantastic place to live, I mean you can do all types of outdoor activities practically all year round because of the great weather. Horses are my poison but the islands are also a superb spot for water sports so they do attract a lot of attention from people around the world. Anyway, enough about that. Back in 2011, I made one of the biggest, scariest yet best decisions I'd ever made and set-up my own business in the middle of a recession. I love what I do as no two days are the same, plus Spanish law keeps me on my toes as it is constantly changing (often without warning!) so there is always something new to learn. As I've branched out in the world of Administrative Consultancy, I decided to create a blog to discuss topics of interest to others in my industry and my clients, share tips and experiences, to see what new ideas people have for improving their businesses and the like so I hope you'll find the time to join me on this venture...

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