New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - December 25, 1996, New Braunfels, Texas
6A □ Herald-Zeitung J Wednesday, December 25, 1996Social Security computers not good at the name game
(AP) — Social Security computers are miscalculating wage reports for women who drop their maiden names and for people with non-traditional surnames, reducing payments to millions of beneficiaries, according to a new report.
The report, by a Social Security official in California, says there have been numerous cases of the records of people with Asian, Hispanic and Arab surnames being mishandled by computers, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday.
Surnames that have spaces, such as De la Rosa, and those that fall somewhere other than the end of the name cause problems for the Social
Among some Asians and Hispanics, the family name is not the last name.
The computers were also having trouble processing wage reports from women who change their names after marriage or divorce.
Our findings indicate millions of beneficiaries may be receiving less than they have paid for,” said the report ordered by Jim Hodgson, Social Security’s district director for San Bernardino County.
Hodgson said he investigated the situation himself after repeated denials from agency headquarters in Baltimore
‘Our findings indicate millions of beneficiaries may be receiving less than they have paid for.’— Jim Hodgson San Bernardino County
that there were serious problems.
"They never thought a field office would take it upon itself to discover errors in the central file,” said Hodgson, a 31-year veteran of the agency. "SSA has known for years that locating gaps in
earnings is the single biggest quality complaint about the agency.”
The agency has $234 billion worth of unmatched wage reports, some dating from 1937, the Times said.
SSA officials say that represents just a small portion of the wage reports it has handled.
According to Hodgson, the agency has an estimated 200 million unmatched wage reports.
Social Security spokesman Phil Gambino said the agency has improved its tracking and denied that unusual names have caused serious problems.
Most errors are the fault of employers
who provided erroneous information, he said.
But the agency has adopted some of Hodgson’s recommendations and may implement others.
Under Hodgson’s direction, the San Bernardino district has corrected about 100,000 mismatches in the last year.
Glenn Davis, an SSA spokesman in San Francisco, said workers who believe their wage reports have been miscalculated should contact the agency.
They can obtain a personal earnings and benefits estimate statement to determine whether all earnings have been posted correctly.
Investigators looking for causa of plant explosion
Karin Norred found out that her son had been killed in a factory explosion when someone arrived at her door and said there was a “little problem” at the plant.
“I don’t think my son was a little problem,” she said Monday.
The blast that killed eight workers and injured two others at the Wyman Gordon Forging Co. plant in Houston Sunday night left families and employees mourning on Christmas Eve.
“We work diligently on safety so we would never have a day like this,” Dave Gruber, the company’s chief executive officer, said in a statement. “Like a family, we’ve come to he together with those families who instead of celebrating Christmas will be grieving for a tragic loss.”
Officials were investigating the cause of the explosion, which occurred as workers were doing routine maintenance on huge pressurized tanks at the plant. The blast blew a jagged hole in the roof and peeled away part of the sheet-metal walls, exposing the steel beam framework.
Judge issues injunction on Prop 209 in California
A judge has blocked enforcement
of California’s voter-approved ban on affirmative action programs, saying the measure is probably unconstitutional.
Chief U.S District Judge Thelton Henderson issued a preliminary injunction Monday barring enforcement of Proposition 209 until a court challenge goes to trial. He had issued a temporary restraining order against the measure last month.
An injunction has greater legal weight, because it remains in effect until the lawsuit goes to trial, unless a higher court overturns it. Attorney General Dan Lungren said the state would appeal.
The case is to be heard by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and opponents of the measure will be joined by the Justice Department. President Clinton opposed Proposition 209 during the campaign.
The initiative, approved by 54 percent of the voters Nov. 5, prohibits discrimination or preferences based on race, sex or national origin in state and local government education, employment and contracting programs.
Republicans moving to end Gingrich ethics investigation
Democrats and Republicans soon may switch roles in the politically
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charged ethics investigation of House Speaker Newt Gingrich This time, Republicans will be shrieking about unconscionable delays.
Democrats are moving to foil Republican plans to quickly end the lengthy case on Jan. 7, when the 105th Congress convenes, party leadership aides said Monday.
GOP leaders want a vote that day to reprimand Gingrich, who on Saturday admitted rules violations, followed by a vote to re-elect him
FBI agent held without bond for selling secrets
A veteran FBI agent charged with selling secrets to Russia was ordered held without bond Monday.
Earl Edwin Pitts, 43, was arrested last Wednesday, following an undercover investigation, and charged with selling secrets to Moscow for more than $224,000.
In denying bail, U.S. District Judge Thomas Rawles Jones said, ‘’This is one of the most serious charges that can be brought. The
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The 13-year bureau veteran is the second FBI agent ever charged with
At the time of Pitts’ arrest, FBI Director Louis Freeh said that in the spring of 1993 information from defectors and the failure of some counterintelligence operations in New York led the bureau to suspect it had been penetrated by Moscow’s
A list was drawn up of everyone who knew about the failed operations, including Pitts. Later, a cooperating Russian official, identified Pitts as the FBI agent who wrote him a letter in 1987 volunteering to spy for Moscow.
During 1987-89 Pitts was in the FBI’s New York office assigned to hunt and recruit Soviet KGB officers.
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