Social Security worker loses files
Some are never found; hearings on disability benefits delayed
The confidential files of six Wisconsin residents who had sought Social Security disability benefits were lost for months, as were documents from seven other files, after a Social Security employee took them home to work on them.
In a bizarre twist, the mother of one applicant received an anonymous call in November from a man who had "very specific" information on her son's medical condition, records show.
The caller told her that his Social Security file, along with others, had been found in a downtown Milwaukee Dumpster, according to federal investigative reports.
In addition to private medical information, the files include Social Security numbers, addresses and phone numbers of family members, dates of birth and work history - all of which could be used by identity thieves.
All of the applicants had been waiting at least two years for a final decision on whether they qualify for disability benefits when their files were lost, delaying decisions even further.
The Social Security Administration allows employees nationwide to work on confidential files at home under a program called Flexiplace, which has come under fire in the past because of privacy concerns.
The employee who took the files home told authorities she believes some were left behind when she fled her home last summer because of domestic violence. She told authorities she had kept them in a locked two-drawer file cabinet.
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