A government investigator says 89,000 stimulus payments of $250 each went to people who were either dead or in prison.
The Social Security Administration's inspector general said in a report Thursday that $18 million went to 72,000 people who were dead. The report estimates that a little more than half the payments were returned.
The report said $4.3 million went to a little more than 17,000 prison inmates.
The payments were part of the government's massive economic recovery package enacted in February 2009. Under the law, the $250 payments were sent to about 52 million Social Security recipients and federal retirees.