Additional Death Records Hitting the SSADMF this Weekend

Here ye, here ye: big news!

This weekend marks another round of death record updates to the Social Security Administration Death Master File (SSADMF). On June 22, 2019, we’ll receive 6,500 historical death records in addition to our normal death record update. Any of these that apply to your population, we’ll be sure to apply in your next report.  

The Social Security Administration had this to report:

 “SSA continues to be actively engaged in an initiative to improve our death data.  As a part of this initiative, in fiscal year 2019, SSA will add nearly 3 million death records to the full and publicly available Death Master File (DMF) over the course of several months.  These records are deaths currently maintained in our records that we determined should be included in the DMF.  This effort to update the DMF with these records may result in an increase to the volume of the death reports that you receive.  Additionally, these historical records may reflect a higher volume of zeroes in the date of death field.  This generally occurs on older records because SSA’s prior death reporting process did not require a valid date of death.   As a result, the zeroes could have been present in the death information SSA received.  The zeroes also could have been used to indicate information that was missing in the death report or, in the case of paper records, simply illegible when we keyed them into our electronic database.

Sharing these deaths will increase the accuracy, integrity, and completeness of our records as well as the DMF.  We will notify you a week prior to receiving an increased volume of death information in your files.  You can expect to receive an anticipated volume along with that communication.”   

LifeStatus360 is Here to Help with Your Death Audits

At LifeStatus360, we believe in providing our customers with the highest quality death audit solution with the most complete data we can find. While these updates from the SSA significantly bolster the amount of records available, don’t forget that we also use Obit360 and our proprietary sources to provide the most complete and industry’s fastest results, helping our clients reduce overpayments and maintain compliance.

We’re here to keep you updated on the latest happenings with the DMF, as well as what’s happening with us – and we’ve got some big news coming soon! Stay tuned…

What the FWAC?

May 20, 2019

What the FWAC is right! Did you see the recent report from the Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General that discovered California’s overpayment to the tune of 71 million dollars in Medicaid payments? That’s a lot of money that’s being paid for deceased beneficiaries.

And California isn’t the only state that’s making these severely miscalculated overpayments. In 2017, the same office discovered that Texas made $5 million worth of overpayments following the death of beneficiaries. Rhode Island paid nearly $11 million in overpayments for medical programs to deceased beneficiaries.

Incorrect Medicaid Payments in California
Image Source: Fox Business

That’s a total of 87 million dollars in overpayments to deceased beneficiaries! Can you even imagine that amount of money? And it’s been paid to dead people. How?

Why the Ongoing Overpayments to Dead People?

This is a question we keep asking ourselves as we continue to see these reports noting ludicrous overpayment numbers. Are these states not using a death audit solution to locate their participants? If they are, might we suggest a switch to an industry leader. Obviously, there’s an issue with whatever solution they’re using.

But what if they’re not using a death audit solution? The question then becomes: Why are these government agencies failing in their compliance with federal and state regulations? Well, we have a few thoughts on that, but we’d prefer to offer solutions rather than a never-ending critique.

Death Audits Prevent Zombie Payments

The simplest way to avoid making millions of dollars in overpayments is to perform a death audit. This may seem like a simple solution – and it is – it’s curious why governmental agencies aren’t performing these simple tasks that are federally required.

Again, we’re not going to ponder the reasons why. At LifeStatus360, we know that death audits are a valuable resource to ensure these funds aren’t making zombie payments. Uploading your population to our Death Audit Solution will help you locate any deceased participants so you can remove those people to reduce the amount of overpayments. It’s so easy, even a [_________] could do it!

We’re Here to Help

As stated previously, LifeStatus360 is here to help. We work with a variety of governmental and private funds to provide compliance with federal and state regulations to reduce exorbitant overpayments.

Sign up for our walk-through webinar to take a look at how simple our Death Audit Solution is to use. We provide the fastest results in our industry with daily reports. Our solutions could’ve prevented these massive overpayments: imagine what we could do for all governmental agencies?

We’re here to help save your company or agency money and prevent fraud. Contact us online or via telephone to learn more.

Leading the Way in the Death Audit Industry

From the Desk Of IT

When LifeStatus360 first started, we looked around at the current competitors and asked our customers, who, in some cases used our competitors’ services, “What do you want? What do you need? What is missing in your current solution?”

The overwhelming answers?

  • More Data Sources
  • Increased Delivery Speed
  • Ease of use

So, we rolled up our sleeves and started developing the current LifeStatus360 SaaS solution. The 2.0 project. We believe we could do it. Currently we have:

Speed:
  • We have the only Daily processing in the industry.
More Data Sources:
  • We added Obit360 and made it an integral part of our process.
  • We added our proprietary data sources we call LSP (LifeStatus Proprietary).
  • To date we have over 32009 data sources which is twice as many as the leading competitors own claim of 15000+ data sources in a recent press release.
  • One of our competitors claimed to have “hundreds of data sources.”
Ease of Use:
  • Our Software as A Service (SaaS) solution was designed with ease-of-use in mind.
  • Important data up-front.
  • A User Interface (UI) you are already familiar with (Excel-like grids).

We give you the data, the processes and functions, and the tools you need to process your Death and Life Audits.

But We’re Not Stopping There!

We are pleased to announce LifeStatus360 3.0. The project is still in development and it’s exciting!

Over the last 2 years, we have collected all of our customers EXCELLENT ideas. We are incorporating the best of the best in 3.0!

  • We will maintain our industry-leading daily reports but add additional real-time processing for those emergency projects our customers have from time to time.
  • We are always looking for and adding new data sources. We will have additional sources to fill in the gaps made by the LADMF. (That’s 32009+!)
  • Increased ease of use: Wow! Just wait until you see the new interactions, grids and UI. We are incorporating the latest in UI.

Security: Keeping Data Safe & Secure

Switch Data Center in Reno, NVFirstly: While we’re always looking for ways to improve our solutions, we are always looking for ways, means and methods to increase our already secure site and software.

We will be adding additional computing resources and placing them in the brilliant, excellent ultra-modern, ultra-secure SWITCH facility in Reno

I swear that’s got to be Darth Vader’s winter home!

Secondly: We are associating with SonicWall and using their latest and greatest solutions to provide us with the next-generation firewall and cyber security.

The latest perimeter firewall protection, intrusion prevention, content filtering service, behavior-based endpoint security, endpoint rollback and advance reporting and attack visualization is to say the least – Fabulous!

Finally: There has been a lot of competitor TALK about artificial intelligence as applied to certain deaths.  More TALK about taking the human (aka you) out of the equation and giving it to “subject matter experts” (SME).

Hmm… Does that mean MORE people will be looking at your data?

I don’t think so!

You are the most important part of the process and the equation.

We need you and the process needs you to determine what is right or wrong about YOUR data.

Not some artificial solutions (aka it) with SME’s that are required to learn your methods. Do you have to train it? What happens when your data or compliance or legal requirement change? Do you have to train it again?

That seems like a lot of extra work and much ado about nothing. And if extra people are looking at your data, that is a security risk!

 

We say nope, nein, nyet and negativo to that bad competitor tech.

 

At LifeStatus360 we give you the results and the tools to help you do your job. We listen, we adapt, we apply.

So, in Project 3.0 we are utilizing Soft Computing Technology to bring you the best results possible.  Soft computing approaches problem-solving by using means other than computers. Using the human mind as a role model, soft computing is tolerant of partial truths (good data, bad data, missing data), uncertainty, imprecision and approximation.

We humans are full of that stuff and, sadly, we tend to pass it on to our data.

The flexibility of soft computing allows us to provide new solutions that traditional computing can’t process (or it). Soft Computing is the science of reasoning, thinking and deduction that knows and uses the real-world reality of data (bad, incomplete or missing data), its grouping, memberships, and classification of various data types under analysis.

We concentrate on Computational Intelligence (CI) not artificial processes (it).

So, we will keep you posted on Lifestatus360 3.0 as we move forward in the coming months providing you with the best of the best.

From the desk of David F. Wiley Director of IT and Operations.

Death Master File Improvement Project: New Additions

January 21, 2019

In fiscal year 2019, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will add nearly three million (3,000,0000) death records to the publicly available Death Master File (DMF). Following a review by the National Technical Information System (NTIS), the records were determined as necessary to be included in the DMF.

Schedule of Death Record Improvements & Additions

In addition to the influx of records we received last year, we’re anticipating this increased volume to bolster our Death Audit Solution. The schedule for 2019 is:

Continuing Death Improvements (CDI)
12/16/2018 10,000
02/24/2019 up to 1.7 million
03/24/2019 10,000 records
04/21/2019 up to 1.2 million records

 

Historical records may have a higher volume of zeros (0000) in the Date of Death (DOD) field. These zeros could have been present in the actual death information SSA received, but also may have been used by the reporting agency to indicate information was missing in the actual death report or, in the case of paper records, the data may have been illegible when keyed into the SSA DMF database.

Despite the missing DOD, the additional records will increase the accuracy, integrity and completeness of SSA’s records as well as the DMF. We will keep you informed as to the increased volume of the week as it comes in.

 

David F. Wiley

Director of IT/Operations LifeStatus360

 

 

2018: Year in Review & Looking Forward to 2019

January 15, 2019

Oh, boy, 2018 was a heck a year for data hacks and breaches! Some of the biggest security breaches in 2018 include (Top 5 according to Business Insider):

  • Aadhar: 1.1 billion
  • Marriott-Starwood Hotels: 500 million
  • Exactis: 340 million
  • MyFitness Pal: 150 million
  • Quora: 100 million

Others included in the list for the top 20 are MyHeritage, Cambridge Analytica, Google+, Chegg, Facebook, Ticketfly, Timehop, Careem, Cathay Pacific Airways, Sheln, Saks and Lord & Taylor, My Personality, T-Mobile, SingHealth, Orbitz and British Airways.

Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why:

  • Vulnerable third-party plugins
  • Malware on a customer support product hosted by a third-party supplier.
  • Use of an outdated hashing algorithm.
  • No security protocols in place
  • Open APIs
  • Injection of card skimming scripts
  • Servers exposed to the public

The list goes on and on…

More importantly, following these data breaches: What can we learn from them?

  • Human weakness is at the forefront. Train, Train, Train. Phishing emails are at the forefront of most data breaches. Teach your people:
    • When in doubt, communicate, and delete.
      • Call before opening.
      • If in doubt, delete the email.
    • Enforce the security policy.
    • Put in concentric rings of security: Network security, desktop security, application security, email security, process security.
    • Test, Test, Test.
    • Learn from the best and from the incidents. Analyze the incidents that are made public. Find out what happened and how it happened, then see if it applies to your area or circumstance.

It’s Only Going to Get More Interesting

In the meantime, take a look at a great web site that will help you keep track of the data breaches: Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (PRC) [https://www.privacyrights.org/data-breaches]. This site allows you to view the data breaches, breach type, organization type, and map them!

When you first visit the site, well… My reaction was OMG!  As of 1/15/2019 the number of record breaches is 11,582, 116, 452. (I Know!). The number of “known” data breaches is 9,033 since 2005 (Cringe!)

The breach types for 2018 are –

Thanks, from Fort LifeStatus360.

Daily Death Audits: Time is Money

September 24, 2018

From the desk of David F. Wiley, Director of IT:

Time Is Money. Now, more than ever before with the changes made by the Social Security Administration and the pressures put on by the DOL, IRS and PGBC – time is money, and time lost is money lost.

Money is the primary and most important consideration.  As fiduciaries, plan sponsors are charged with shielding and preserving the assets, resources and monies of the plan for all participants of that plan. time is money

Have you ever been in a situation where your plan has made payments to a deceased participant?  When payments are made after the death of a participant, and if these payments continue for weeks, months, and, in some cases, years, that overpayment is hard to recuperate. This becomes an even larger issue when the death remains unreported unknown or unidentified, when the overpayment increases and it becomes even more difficult to recover.

It’s simple: Time is Money.

For the plan sponsor community, speed is of the essence. The faster you are made aware of a death, the faster you can react and do those things you need to do: shield and preserve the assets, resources and monies of the plan for all participants of that plan.

How LifeStatus360 Approaches Death Audits

Our approach is a simple one: technology. We have gathered all the death sources we can get our hands on (and are continuously looking for more!). When the Death Master File (DMF) became the Limited Death Master File (LDMF), LifeStatus360 rushed to plug that hole and fill in the blanks. To do so, we added obituary records and our proprietary records (LifeStatus360). We went from weekly results to producing daily results!

Why wait to sign up and start saving money?

We provide the advantage of a daily death audit for our subscription users. If a daily death audit is not required, you can control the frequency to a schedule that is more suitable to your timeframe.

We’ve also added more Life Audit Services to help our customers clean their data and fill in any gaps. The better your data, the better the monitoring. Additionally, our free data analysis is included as part of our services because good data matters! Our Life Audit Services help you clean your data and fill in the holes.

In a nutshell, that is what we do: Death Audit and Life Audit monitoring. We monitor and report back to you, as fast as we can detect changes in the force.

The Benefits of a Daily Death Audit Solution

Overall, the cost of a Daily Death Audit is far less that the cost of a single overpayment, and far less expensive than trying to recuperate that overpayment.

  • The benefit is money
  • The benefit are savings
  • The benefit is less administrative costs
  • The benefit is less legal costs
  • The benefit is clean data
  • The benefit is getting to know your data (demographics analysis, metrics analysis, data analysis)

If you recognize the benefits of using this daily death audit approach, give us a call. Let us help you save money.

What Happens When You Don’t Use LifeStatus360?

September 12, 2018

From the desk of David F. Wiley, Director of IT:

An audit released on September 6, 2018 by the Massachusetts Office of State Auditor Suzanne Bump found that 1905 driver’s licenses were issued to deceased individuals. Most of these licenses were issued to people who died between 1988 and 2010. Now here’s the kicker: 97% of the licenses issued to deceased individuals were still ACTIVE as of January 2018. Cost?Unknown. Dead people using a driver’s license can’t be good.

The Massachusetts’s Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) processed over 10,000 requests for disability parking cards – again, from deceased people in the Death Master file. Cost?Loss of parking meter revenue.

In their defense, the RMV stated the license audit was incorrect. RMV spokesperson Jacquelyn Goddard and Gov. Charlie Baker rejected the findings, stating 1900 individuals on the list were verified as alive. However, in the case of the disability parking cards, the RMV, stated it would be a burden for individuals to reapply every five years. While that may be true, what prevents the RMV from checking for deaths every day, month, year?

The list of tax dollars lost for Massachusetts continues:

  • In 2010, 11,000+ deceased people applied for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
  • In 2013 an audit of the Department of Transitional Assistance paid over $2,000,000.00 in benefits to deceased individuals.
  • In 2016 an audit by the Massachusetts State of Recruitment Board paid more than $687,000.00 in pension payments to deceased individuals.

Recommendations for Massachusetts

We’d like to make some recommendations to the Massachusetts Office of State Auditor Suzanne Bump. We have a system in place that can check for deaths daily. If you need an on-demand (AdHoc) check, we can do that as well. In the case of the disability placards, the State of Massachusetts can also check daily, weekly or monthly for deceased people. If found, cancel the placards and request its return. This is a more cost-effective option than losing all that parking revenue. It’s faster too, with no burden to the individual.

LifeStatus360 has the (Death Audit) Solution

We know the State of Massachusetts could save taxpayer monies by contracting with us to audit their roles, applicants and pensioners using a modern, fast and efficient solution. There is no need for cumbersome manual checks; we have automated the entire process for you. Current technology, contemporary speed, up-to-the-minute results.

We encourage the Office of the State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump to give us a call. We can save your state hard-earned taxpayer dollars.

 

The Limited Death Master File (LDMF): More Records Coming Home to Roost

August 20, 2018

From the desk of Director of IT David Wiley:

The Death Master File (DMF) is a fundamental record of deaths across the United States that’s compiled by the Social Security Administration (SSA) and distributed via the National Technical Information Service (NTIS). The DMF is used for pension funds, financial and insurance professionals (as well as genealogists, medical researches and in other various fields). The NTIS distributed SSADMF is the primary means to verify deaths.

By now, it’s likely that you’ve heard of the changes made to the public Death Master File (DMF). On November 1, 2011, the DMF no longer contains protected state records, which translates to the loss of 4.2 million records, and addsapproximately 1 million fewer records annually. Bottom line, since this change, everyone has less access to the deaths on the DMF.

Following this change, the DMF became the Limited Access DMF. What does this mean? Well, the official definition of the Limited Access DMF is:

“The DMF product made available by NTIS which includes DMF with respect to any deceased individual at any time during the three-calendar-year period beginning on the date of the individual’s death. As used in this part, Limited Access DMF does not include an individual element of information (name, social security number, date of birth, or date of death) in the possession of a Person, whether certified, but obtained by such Person through a source independent of the Limited Access DMF. If a Person obtains, or a third party subsequently provides to such Person, death information (i.e., the name, social security account number, date of birth, or date of death) independently, such information in the possession of such Person is not part of the Limited Access DMF or subject to this part.” Source: CFR › Title 15 › Subtitle B › Chapter XI › Part 1110 › Subpart A › Section 1110.2

Everyone had to scramble to obtain new death sources to fill the gap left by this change. LifeStatus360 did just that (have you heard of Obit360?).

Positive Changes to the Limited Death Master File in 2019

The key term in the Limited Access DMF is “the three-calendar-year period beginning on the date of the individual’s death.” What does that mean for you, the institutions that need the information in the DMF for compliance, anti-fraud, anti-waste and anti-abuse programsas required by law?

More records are the answer, and SSA and NTIS have heard the call from industry professionals (Make sure to take a look at our previous article). Since April, close to 7 million records have been added to the Limited Access DMF (6,953,522 to be precise). In the month of August, 742,511 records have been added – the older records are coming home to roost, and we’ll have those available for our customers.

Contact LifeStatus360 for Enhanced Death Audit Results

As more and more records are becoming available on the Limited Access DMF, you can bet that LifeStatus360 will be at the forefront of delivering those results to our customers. We understand the importance of keeping your records accurate and up-to-date, which is why we are always working to bring new technology into our business model.

Stay tuned for more updates about the technology we’re integrating in 2019 to help fill the gaps left by the Limited Access DMF. Until then, take a look at our nextgen technology solution for finding missing participants and/or their beneficiaries: Pinpoint360.

SSA & NTIS to Increase Reported Deaths for Death Audit Services

April 2, 2018

Good News – Good News – Good News!

This weekend’s DMF update was approximately 1 million records! With dates of death ranging from 1919 to 2019, with the majority of death dates ranging from 1938 to 1976. Next weekend,  the SSA/NTIS should release an additional 2 million previously unreported records.

The new records, combined with our Obit360 database of obituaries (updated daily) and the data from state a vital records organizations and other sources, will help us help you and meaningfully fill the gap of missing deaths.

What Changed for Death Audits?

The SSA (Social Security Administration) and the NTIS (National Technical Information Service) have been actively engaged in an initiative to improve the quality of available death data following several investigations where funds have been under and overpaid. As part of this initiative, we’ve learned that in FY2018 the SSA will be adding over 8 million death records to the full and Limited Death Master File (LDMF)!

So – what does this mean for our industry and our customers? Glad you asked!

Sharing the new death records will increase the accuracy, integrity and the completeness of the SSA records and to the Death Master File (DMF). Many leaders in our industry have been pushing for increased death reporting because it encourages accurate and complete files and reduces the risk of fiduciary impropriety.

More Deaths Reported Mean More Deaths Found

We’ve been reporting on many of these improprieties, and are more than willing to discuss how our proprietary system reduces these risks. Our team is regularly searching for new ways to reach more customers and increase the chances of allocating funds as necessary, whether it’s locating a pension fund beneficiary or verifying that someone is who they say they are and that they’re receiving only the monies allotted. In 2017 alone, we added 2.8M obituary records and 1.3M records to the Limited DMF.

We’re looking forward to seeing the new records on the DMF and will keep our customers apprised of the ongoing efforts of the SSA and NTIS.

Thank you to both of these organizations – SSA and NTIS – for your due diligence and effort in this initiative. By increasing the death count, our customers will have more accurate accounting. Our team will continue to assist our customers in their efforts to detect, correct and prevent fraud, waste and abuse to encourage compliance (FWAC) with federal and state rules and regulations.

If you have questions about how this initiative affects your death audits, let our team clear the smoke! We’re available online or via telephone at 888-LIFE-360, or feel free to reach out on our social media handles and start the conversation. We know the power of death audits and how these key compliance tools can make or break a company (need examples? Just ask us!).

 

Data Quality, Data Quality, Data Quality

March 2, 2018

From the desk of Mr. David Wiley, IT Information Services at LifeStatus360:

In our industry, data quality is paramount, and your data should be the very best it can be: all missing data elements filled in and correct.  According to a Gartner, the average organization loses 8.2 million dollars annually because of poor data quality.

The reason behind providing us with the highest quality data is simple: missing data equates to missing deaths and to loss of contact with your plans’ participants. Both results turn into loss of monies due to overpayments or fines from the Department of Labor (DOL), Internal Revenue Service (IRS), or Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC). As you’ve likely seen:

  • The DOL is actively auditing pension plans with “large lists of unpaid participants.”
  • The IRS is challenging plans for Required Minimum Distribution (RMD).
  • The PBGC is asking if a sponsor has “tried” to pay all benefits prior to transferring the assets to PDBC and looking for documented proof of the process.

These new focuses from governmental agencies create an even more critical need to ensure your data quality is the best it can be.

How to Improve Your Data Quality and Your Results

Want to save some monies? Improve your data quality! Here’s how:

  • Missing city, states or zip codes: You are not only missing obituary matching, but you may also be receiving too many “false positives.” The more data you provide, the tighter and more accurate the reporting.
  • Missing DOB: This is a required field for Obituary Matching, and without it we will not return an obituary match because there will be too many “false positives.” Additionally, you’ll need a date of birth to conduct proper future pension fund liabilities, which is information your actuarial person should be requesting. What do your demographics look like? How can you be sure? Demographic-related projects could be incorrect.
  • What is the date of the last address update? You could lose contact with your participants, leading to uncashed checks and unsigned documents.
  • Missing contact information: Don’t lose contact! In today’s digital world, there are multiple methods to maintain contact.
  • Missing relatives: Who are the backup contacts just in case you lose contact with your participants?

Let LifeStatus360 Help You Improve Your Data Quality

At LifeStatus360, we can help you clean up your data, fill in the blanks, give you the missing data and apply all those efforts into monitoring your population for deaths or helping you stay in contact with your current population. We understand that at the very least, you’re going to need a yearly check-up on your plan participants; we recommend that you do, at a minimum, a yearly check-up on your data. Just as ignoring your health can later cost you more money, the same can be said of your data – the longer you ignore it, the more money you’re costing your company. Ignore your data at your own peril.

Here are a few ways to ensure your data is clean, current and complete (C3™):

  • Call LifeStatus360 at 888-LIFE-360 for a data quality checkup report.
  • Modern methods with modern technologies and highest security = a winning combination!
  • Ask us about Pinpoint360™, our new comprehensive DOL/IRS/PBGC pre-audit service