The Social Security Administration sent 72,000 stimulus payments of $250 each to dead people, and another 17,000 to prison inmates, according to a new report from the inspector general. That amounts to $22.3 million in accidental checks, of which about $12 million has been returned, the Wall Street Journal reports. Some 55,000 of the dearly departed had died recently, and Social Security simply hadn’t been informed yet.
Some of the prisoners, meanwhile, may have technically been entitled to their checks; lawmakers intended to exclude prisoners, but the law only prohibits payments to people who were locked up between November 2008 and January 2009. Of the 89,000 mistaken checks, 41,000 have been returned. The SSA says the stimulus gave it little power to retrieve funds sent by mistake, so in cases where the money was sent electronically, it may be collecting digital dust in the bank accounts of the dead.