From cradle to grave - and beyond

Our federal government is generous to a fault. And that fault is it's our money and they are far too generous in doling it out.

Consider the idea of cradle to grave security offered by government. Most might believe that is sufficiently generous for anyone, right?

Not for some federal pensioners who are still collecting benefits despite having permanently changed their address to the local cemetery:

In the past five years, the Office of Personnel Management has made more than $601 million in benefits payments to deceased federal annuitants, according to the agency's inspector general. Total annual payouts range between $100 million and $150 million.

Inspector General Patrick E. McFarland, who previously reported on the improper payments in 2005 and 2008, urged OPM to more closely track such mistakes.

"It is time to stop, once and for all, this waste of taxpayer money," he wrote in the report.

Improper payments to dead retirees increased 70 percent in the past five years, far higher than the 19 percent climb in overall annuity payments, the report said.

The payments are on the rise because OPM is doing a poor job of tracking potential cheats, McFarland said. In one case, a deceased annuitant's son continued receiving federal benefits until 2008 - 37 years after his father's death. OPM learned about the improper payments - which exceeded $515,000 - only after the son died. The agency never recovered the money.

It's a relief to know that our government believes in an afterlife. It sure gives the lie to the old saying "You can't take it with you." Perhaps, more accurately, the old saw should have an addendum: "Unless you worked for the government."

Hat Tip: Ed Lasky