Yesterday we discussed the bizarre but not uncommon case of a woman who was erroneously declared dead by the Social Security Administration. The woman learned of her supposed death after her Social Security Disability benefits payments stopped. Although the woman was eventually able to prove to her bank that she was still living, the Social Security Administration’s errors caused many problems.
The file with the woman’s medical history and disability benefit records was lost by the administration and it took her years to rebuild it. Information in these files is typically difficult for a Social Security disability recipient to assemble and many applicants rely on experienced Social Security Disability attorneys to help collect and submit the necessary documents.
The woman also faced more pressing financial hardships from the SSA’s mistake. She was slapped with up to $400 for bounced checks and missed out on $1,000 in disability insurance benefits. The SSA eventually resumed her payments but it wouldn’t reimburse her for missed payments. Most people who rely on disability benefits are on limited budgets, so missed payments can have serious financial repercussions.
“Those disability checks were everything I had, and the $300 to $400 I had to pay in fees was more than half of that weekly income,” she said. “But more than the financial impact of all of this was the psychological shock — it spiraled me into further depression and really started me on the road to questioning authority.”
The Social Security Administration insists that most of these cases do not take two months to resolve and it is recommended that anyone who is declared dead to come into a Social Security office with a photo ID and a certified copy of the amended death certificate.
Source: CNN Money, “Social Security wrongly declares 14,000 people dead each year,” Blake Ellis, Aug. 17, 2011