San Diego Pension Head Admits 200 Dead Retirees Received Payments

February 4, 2005 ( - The head of San Diego's pension system has admitted that about 200 retirees received pension payments after they died.

The admission by Administrator Larry Grissom follows allegations by pension board trustee Diann Shipione that many retirees were receiving checks after they passed away, and that the city was not actively trying to recover such funds (See San Diego Pension Debacle Heats Up Again ). In his statement, Grissom said that since 1996, about 200 dead retirees have received checks and that in 63 cases the amount paid was still being calculated, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. Grissom said that the figures already calculated for about 140 retirees would be released in the coming days. He said the amount paid ranged from $100 to $6,000, according to the paper.

Grissom dismissed Shipione’s claim that the problem was widespread, according to the paper. Shipione was proven wrong on Wednesday regarding her charges that the city checks pensioner deaths in the obituaries and fails to collect payments made to those already dead by an audit report uncovered by a local news station. The report made it clear that the city was not only looking at obituaries to ascertain which retirees passed away (See Shipione Proven Wrong as SD Pension Debacle Continues ).

The problem arose because Social Security number audits were not done until a private company was hired by the city to do so in 2003, according to the paper. From 1996 to 2000, the city auditor ran a computerized check for dead pensioners, and in 2001 the pension system did one. The system currently has quarterly checks and also learns about deaths from family members and obituaries.

Grissom’s staff is preparing a report on the subject at the request of City Council, according to the paper.

The issue of payments to deceased retirees is only the latest in the constant swirl of activity that surrounds the underfunded pension plan. Lawsuits from both the city attorney and the pension board are being launched over who has the right to give advice to the board and investigations into possible criminal conduct have been launched.