[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book I)]
[April 25, 1998]
[Page 619]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

[[Page 619]]

Memorandum on Action To Prevent Prison Inmates From Inappropriately 
Receiving Federal Benefits
April 25, 1998

Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies

Subject: Use of the Social Security Administration's Prisoner Database 
to Prevent Prison Inmates from Inappropriately Receiving Federal 

    The Social Security Administration (``SSA'') is required by law to 
suspend Old Age and Survivors and Disability Insurance or Supplemental 
Security Income benefits to certain persons who are incarcerated. To 
carry out the law, the SSA, with the assistance of the Federal Bureau of 
Prisons and various State and local entities, developed a database of 
persons who are incarcerated. Other agencies, too, including the 
Departments of Agriculture, Education, Labor, and Veterans Affairs, 
operate Federal benefit programs that have statutory requirements to 
reduce, suspend, or terminate benefits to those who are incarcerated.
    All of these agencies have been carrying out the requirements to 
suspend or reduce Federal benefits to prison inmates. However, the 
agencies' enforcement of these requirements independently, rather than 
in coordination, is not the most efficient use of Government resources 
and has not allowed the agencies to enforce these requirements to the 
greatest effect. Therefore, to provide for a coordinated governmentwide 
effort to improve the implementation of the laws permitting suspension 
or reduction of Federal benefits to prison inmates and to use Government 
resources more efficiently, I hereby direct executive departments and 
agencies to take the following actions, to the extent permitted by law:
    (1) By November 1, 1998, the Social Security Administration shall 
provide access to its prisoner database, on a reimbursable basis, to 
Federal agencies that administer benefit programs and to appropriate 
State and local entities that administer benefit programs in cooperation 
with Federal agencies. The SSA shall assist these agencies as necessary 
to allow quick and efficient access to the SSA prisoner database. By May 
1, 1999, the agencies should make operational their computer systems 
that are to conduct the matches between their benefit program databases 
and the SSA prisoner database;
    (2) The Departments of Education, Labor, and Veterans Affairs and 
Food Stamp agencies acting as agents for the Department of Agriculture, 
shall conduct matches between their benefit program databases and SSA's 
prisoner database to identify ineligible recipients of benefits on their 
benefit rosters. Agencies that have begun to conduct matches of their 
benefit program databases with SSA's prisoner database or other 
agencies' databases shall continue that work;
    (3) Other executive agencies with benefit programs shall review such 
programs and determine whether it is appropriate and cost effective to 
conduct a match of their benefit program databases with the SSA prisoner 
    (4) Based on their matches with the SSA prisoner database, agencies 
that identify ineligible recipients shall immediately take action to 
suspend, reduce, or terminate benefits as permitted by law; and
    (5) The agencies shall work with the Commissioner of Social Security 
and State and local governments, where appropriate, and take whatever 
actions are practicable to carry out this memorandum. The Commissioner 
of Social Security shall report to me within 180 days on the actions the 
SSA and other agencies have taken to implement this memorandum.
    I believe that this coordinated governmentwide approach to 
terminating, suspending, or reducing Federal benefits to prison inmates 
will more fully carry out the intention of the Federal laws restricting 
payment of benefits to prison inmates and will provide savings in 
Federal benefit programs.

                                                      William J. Clinton