The Social Security Administration (SSA) has 6.5 million Social Security numbers for people 112 years old and up on file, allowing for "thousands of instances of potential identity theft" or fraud, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) warns.
Even though there are only roughly 35 people aged 112 years or older living worldwide, the SSA has millions of active SSNs for supercentenarians on its Numident, which can be used by others to receive benefits.
"In September 2013, a New York resident, believed to be the world's oldest living man, died at age 112," the OIG said in a report released last week. "According to the Gerontology Research Group, as of October 2013, only 35 known living individuals worldwide had reached age 112."
"We matched the 6.5 million SSNs against SSA's [Earnings Suspense File] ESF and E-Verify systems and identified thousands of instances of potential identity theft or other fraud," they said.
Nearly 70,000 of those SSNs were used to report $3.1 billion in wages between 2006 and 2011.
"One SSN appeared on 613 different suspended wage reports, and 194 additional SSNs appeared on at least 50 suspended wage reports that SSA received during this 6-year period," the OIG said. "Individuals can commit various types of fraud against the government by reporting earnings under deceased individuals' SSNs."
As of September 2014, the SSA was still issuing benefit payments to 266 people who were using a SSN that said they were born before June 16, 1901.