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State Pay Linked to Dead People's Social Security Numbers

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The State Auditor’s Office said Wednesday that it had turned up several instances of people at North Carolina State University being paid under the Social Security numbers of dead people and one instance in which special retirement benefits were still being paid to a state Department of Justice officer who had died more than two years ago.

Auditor Leslie Merritt’s office said, however, that seven of the eight instances at N.C. State were the result of typographical errors in university records.

At the Department of Justice, the audit, part of what the auditor termed a “strategic review initiative” of state agency records, found incorrect payments of $20,589 in a “special separation law allowance.” Those payments are supposed to end when an employee dies, but these continued for 20 months after the officer died in November 2004, the report said.

The auditor recommended that the Department of Justice try to get the money back, though it did not specify from whom. Since the completion of the audit, the overpayment has been repaid to the Department of Justice, according to the report.

At N.C. State, typographical errors linked seven employees to Social Security numbers of people who had died, and pay had been reported under those numbers, but the errors had been corrected by the time of the audit, Merritt's office said. In an eighth case, the Social Security card in an employee’s file matched the number of a dead person, the auditor said. That employee was fired.

The announcement did not say how much money went to the fired employee.

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