Wilmington, Delaware, retrieves $70,000 accidentally paid to dead pensioner over 20 years

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WILMINGTON, Del. — More than $70,000 in pension payments that the city mistakenly paid to a dead pensioner woman has been returned to city coffers, Wilmington officials say.

The city accidentally issued pension payments to the spouse of a former city employee for 20 years after her death.

Wilmington Treasurer Velda Jones-Potter said it was an “extremely unusual occurrence.”.

“Back in December, I expressed to Wilmington taxpayers my commitment to protecting the city’s financial assets,” she said in a statement Friday. “Today, I hope this reassures them of that.”.

Jones-Potter credited her staff, the city law department and the bank for recovering the money.

Jones-Potter said $70,019 was paid in error to the deceased pensioner from 1997 to 2016. An audit that revealed the error said overpayments totaled $72,966.60. Jones-Potter did not immediately respond to a question about that discrepancy.

All but $485 has been returned, according to Jones-Potter.

Although some records are “too outdated to determine with certainty,” the remaining amount was likely bank fees charged over the recovery period, Jones-Potter said.

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She said a contractor has been hired to review Social Security information monthly, or more frequently as needed, to prevent future occurrences.

The $69,561 has been deposited into the city’s pension payroll account, she said.

“I don’t like leaving a dime on the table, but for an error that was on-going for 20 years, I’m pleased with 99.3% recovered,” Jones-Potter said.

Follow Christina Jedra on Twitter: @ChristinaJedra.

More:Wilmington paid pension of dead woman for 20 years, loses $73,000.