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Social Security Administration - A Report to Congress on Sources and Access to Death Data

SSA

Background

The mission of the Social Security Administration (SSA) is to provide quality Social Security services to the public. SSA administers three programs under the Social Security Act: the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) program, the Disability Insurance (DI) program, and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. SSA collects death data in order to administer the SSI program and to prevent improper payments to deceased individuals, as well as to identify individuals who are eligible for survivor benefits. It also shares this death data with qualifying federal and state agencies for programmatic purposes.

Project Description

Per Section 802 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, the Academy is pleased to conduct a Study and Report to Congress on the Sources of and Access to Death Data for SSA. Death data are important to SSA, the Department of the Treasury, and other federal agencies in their efforts to eliminate improper payments. However, the data are initially collected at the state level, which raises a series of budgetary, information security, and reporting issues. As required by the Appropriations Act, the Academy will conduct an:

  1. “Analysis of the following:
    • The sources and owners of the death data.
    • The timeliness, accuracy, and completeness of State-owned death data, including the process for correcting inaccuracies.
    • Federal and State laws that may affect legal access to, and protections for, State-owned death data.
    • Federalism and the appropriate roles of the relevant Federal and State entities, including States' role in recording vital records and the core mission and responsibility of any Federal agency involved.
    • The costs incurred for each step of the death data collection, management, protection (legal and otherwise), and transmission processes, and the challenges to adequate funding of State vital records programs.
    • Unmet needs (if any) for these data among Federal agencies or programs.
    • Options for providing Federal agencies with limited access to State-owned death data, including Federal agencies contracting directly with States for access to such data or distribution of such data via the Commissioner of Social Security or another Federal agency or program, and corresponding options for appropriate reimbursement structures.
  2. An assessment of the strengths and limitations of the options for distribution and reimbursement identified in paragraph (1)(G).”

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Project Overview