Thousands of extremely low-income older adults and people with disabilities have likely had their Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits cut off erroneously, bringing many of them to the brink of homelessness, according to a new joint report from Justice in Aging and the National Consumer Law Center.
The report, Mismatched and Mistaken: How the Use of an Inaccurate Private Database Results In SSI Recipients Unjustly Losing Benefits details how the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) reliance on a product from LexisNexis called Accurint for Government (Accurint) leads to inaccurate data matches and the potential for erroneous loss of benefits for extremely low-income people. The database looks to see if people who rely on SSI own real property, but it only searches first and last name, leading to many false matches. People on SSI are by definition over 65 or have a disability, and, when a match is found, they are required to prove that they don’t own the property, often with little to no information from SSA about what the property is or where it is located.
Though SSA’s own rules require workers at the agency to conduct an independent investigation when they see a match, before cutting off people’s benefits, this doesn’t necessarily happen.