WASHINGTON — A report says the federal government has doled out more than $600 million in benefit payments to dead people over the past five years.

The payments are supposed to go to retired or disabled federal workers. But the Office of Personnel Management’s inspector general says sometimes the checks keep going out, even after the former employees pass away and the deaths are not reported.

In one case, the son of a beneficiary continued receiving payments for 37 years after his father’s death in 1971. The payments – totaling more than $515,000 – were only discovered when the son died in 2008.

The report calls the waste of taxpayer money unacceptable and says stopping the improper payments should be a priority.