Stimulus for prisoners:

Sometimes costly errors are not as serious as they appear.

The Social Security Administration said Tuesday that it mistakenly sent stimulus checks to 1,700 inmates, resulting in a $425,000 error. The federal government discovered the error in an audit.

Social Security spokesman Dan Moraski told FOXNews.com via a written statement that the official records did not accurately reflect that they were in prison.

Moraski said 3,900 inmates received a stimulus check, and 2,200 of them were due payment because they were not in prison late last year. The other 1,700 were given a financial boost that is of little use to them until they are released.

The $250 checks were supposed to be sent to people who legally received benefits under the Social Security Administration, the Department of Veterans Affairs or the Railroad Retirement Board between November 2008 and January 2009.

Inmates usually cannot receive Social Security benefits, but those who were not in prison during this period were allowed to pocket the extra money.

Although this is an inexcusable mistake, the Social Security Administration could have done worse, considering 52 million checks were sent out.

In mathematical terms, only .003 percent of the checks went to the wrong people. Of the $13 billion distributed, only $425,000 has been sent to ineligible recipients.

All of us would love to pocket an extra $425,000, but in relative terms, it could be a lot worse. The federal government’s audit that led to this discovery, however, could reveal more mistakes.

The U.S. government is not perfect, and if they messed up other issues less than .005 percent of the time, our country would be in much better shape.

Financial mistakes are nothing to ignore, and those who allowed this to happen should be properly reprimanded.

But, no one is perfect and we shouldn’t bash someone for what amounts to a miniscule error.

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