We generally do not like to talk about death however mortality screening is a fundamental part of payments and pensions administration.
Without it, increased reputational risk due to the fallout from the painful and often distressing over-payment recovery procedures when dealing with the grieving family; let alone the wasted time, effort and money caused by the administrative overhead.
Mortality screening is the process of checking the continued existence of every single person in receipt of a pension or, more generally, as a payment beneficiary.
Quite simply, a check to see that the recipient is still alive.
Without such a screening solution in place, payments to deceased pensioners can mount up … the risk of fraud increases while the cost of de-risking also rises. In short, the size of the problem gets bigger month on month.
Whilst UK mortality screening is a relatively simple process, it is a different story when it comes to overseas beneficiaries.
Each country has its own procedures for recording and registering deaths, and there is no publicly available central death register for those who reside overseas.
As a result, global mortality screening is far more difficult.
As a non-invasive ‘search’, pensions administrators should all be operating automated monthly screening for all UK pensioners to quickly check the continued existence of everyone receiving a pension payment. By undertaking this process monthly, scheme administrators can avoid mistakenly paying deceased pensioners and therefore bypass the time-consuming recovery processes.
Whilst the frequent nature of payments within the various pension schemes present an obvious use case for periodic mortality screening, bulk screening can also play its part on database cleansing and clean-up initiatives.
Screening your database regularly for mortalities will help avoid overpayments as well as incorrect or inappropriate mailings being sent. Mailings sent to deceased loved ones remains as one of the most common complaints received by the Information Commissioners Office.
Settling finance matters begins the process of probate and at such a difficult time, honest mistakes and oversights can and do happen. So can the process of using the deceased’s identification for illicit and ill-gotten gains.
In 2018, an Irish News article highlighted that Mortality screening had found that pensions were still being paid years after death.
At the same time, Wedlake Bell was also reporting that the NHS Pension Scheme had overpaid almost £100M since 2012 citing ‘These types of over-payments usually occur in instances when the pension scheme trustees are not immediately notified of the death of a member who is in receipt of their pension …’. According to the Disclosure of Death Registration Information (DDRI), over half a million people pass away in the UK every year.
Knowing who within your database has died is therefore of the utmost importance; to both you and the families of your end-customers.
We welcome your thoughts on the topic.