Several suspected Nazi war criminals and SS guards who were expelled by the United States over the years received millions of dollars in Social Security benefits, the Associated Press, or AP, reported. The report, which was published Sunday, was based on an investigation conducted by AP and is a result of findings of more than two years.

The payments reportedly flowed through a legal loophole that allowed the Justice Department to persuade Nazi suspects to leave the U.S. According to interviews and internal government records acquired by AP, those who left the country on their own could retain their Social Security benefits. The report stated that since 1979, at least 38 of 66 former suspected Nazis and SS guards received the payments. Only 10 were ever prosecuted for war crimes in Europe, AP reported, citing Justice Department figures. The AP also found that by 1999 about 28 suspected Nazi war criminals had received $1.5 million.

"The matter of Social Security benefits eligibility was raised by defense counsel, not by the department, and the department neither used retirement benefits as an inducement to leave the country and renounce citizenship nor threatened that failure to depart and renounce would jeopardize continued receipt of benefits," spokesman Peter Carr reportedly said in an emailed statement to AP.

In 1989, former Auschwitz guard Jakob Denzinger's citizenship was revoked and since then has collected about $1, 500 each month in Social Security payments, AP reported, adding that though Denzinger declined to comment on the situation, his son, who currently lives in the U.S., confirmed that his father receives Social Security payments.

Social Security Administration officials reportedly refused to confirm the number of suspected Nazis who continued to receive the benefits. But, according to AP, at least four of the 66 suspects are alive and are living on U.S. Social Security in Europe.