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January 03, 2011

 


DiNapoli: School Districts Paid Nearly $239,000 for Health Benefits for Deceased or Ineligible Retirees and Dependents


Ten school districts paid nearly $239,000 for health insurance benefits for deceased or ineligible retirees, according to an audit released today by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. DiNapoli said $117,556 had been recovered.

“Paying health insurance premiums for deceased retirees is not a good way to spend taxpayers’ money,” DiNapoli said.  “Fortunately, as a result of our audit, many of the districts were able to recoup some of these costs, but these premiums never should have been paid in the first place. These districts did not have reliable ways to verify if retirees were dead or alive.  They need to protect taxpayer dollars by verifying eligibility before they pay premiums.”

DiNapoli’s audit, which covered July 1, 2008 to May 31, 2010, examined school districts with a high percentage of retirees who do not contribute toward the cost of their health insurance.  Of the 20 districts audited, ten had paid a total of $238,795 for healthcare for deceased retirees or their dependents. Only two districts – Somers Central School District and Yonkers City School District – had written guidelines to ensure the accuracy and appropriateness of health insurance payments.

DiNapoli’s auditors compared data containing the names of 22,422 retirees and dependents receiving health insurance from the districts with records in the Death Master File of the Social Security Administration.

The audit discovered ten districts paid health insurance premiums for 27 ineligible individuals, including 18 retirees, eight dependents and one surviving spouse.  Of the $238,795 paid on behalf of deceased retirees and their ineligible dependents, nine districts have recouped a total of $117,556.

DiNapoli’s audit recommends district officials:

  • Develop written policies and procedures to periodically monitor the status of all retirees, their spouses and dependents receiving health insurance coverage; and
  • Consider establishing systems to maintain adequate information on retirees and their dependents, including social security numbers and emergency contact information, which can be used to ensure eligibility for health insurance coverage.

Of the 20 audited districts, 16 provided responses to the audit.  District officials generally agreed with the audit’s findings and recommendations.  Their comments are included in Appendix A of the audit.

To view DiNapoli’s audit, visit: http://www.osc.state.ny.us/localgov/audits/swr/retireehealth/global.pdf.




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