Many Portland residents rely on the Social Security Administration to provide them Social Security Disability benefits after a serious injury or illness prevents them from working. Unfortunately many of these residents erroneously stop receiving benefits because the SSA believes that they are dead.
CNN reports that the SSA incorrectly enters 1 in every 200 deaths that are reported to it every year. This means that 14,000 people stop receiving their Social Security benefits despite being very much so alive.
The Inspector General’s most recent evaluation of the database came to the conclusion that these mistakes have very serious consequences to many people.
“Erroneous death entries can lead to benefit termination, cause severe financial hardship and distress to affected individuals, and result in the publication of living individuals’ personal identifying information in the Death Master File,” the Inspector General said.
One woman found that that she was declared dead by the SSA after her Social Security Disability checks stopped coming and her rent checks bounced.
“It was one of those surreal things, like seeing a UFO,” the woman said. “When you are a person who already thought that maybe you should be dead because life was so bad to you, I thought this could be a premonition.”
A bank employee even told the Social Security representative that she was not allowed to open her account until she submitted proof that she was alive. Because the fact that she was speaking to the bank was not enough proof of her living state, the woman had to submit pay stubs from a SSA back-to-work program to show that the SSA’s death date was erroneous.
Source: CNN Money, “Social Security wrongly declares 14,000 people dead each year,” Blake Ellis, Aug. 17, 2011