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Illinois third in death reporting errors

Updated: September 9, 2011 12:42AM

When it comes to living folks being reported as dead in the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File, Illinois has the third-highest error rate in the country, with 13.2 mistakes per 100,000 people, according to a Scripps Howard News Service report. Only the District of Columbia (17.9) and Louisiana (15.0) make mistakes more often.

In 2007, 461 Illinois residents erroneously were declared dead; in 2008, another 1,675 joined them.

Doug Nguyen, deputy regional communications director for the Social Security Administration in Chicago, said the high rate of mistakes here is because Illinois is not among the 30 states involved in Electronic Death Registration.

“If all states submitted all death reports through EDR, death reporting would be faster and virtually error-free,” Nguyen said.

While the SSA wants to expand EDR to other states, it needs Congress to provide funds for the Department of Health and Human Services to award state grants.

Scripps Howard reported that most errors concerned the dates of deaths, with records indicating thousands die on the 15th of the month. Nguyen said when the date isn’t included on death reports the SSA gets from other agencies, the 15th is filled in as a default until the actual date can be verified.

The month and year of death, and not the actual day, are vital information, he said.

Susan DeMar Lafferty

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