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Social Security Mistakenly Reports Thousands of Deaths

Posted by on Aug. 17, 2011 at 6:14 PM
  • 10 Replies

More Americans are being erroneously killed off by the Social Security Administration every day.

Of the approximately 2.8 million death reports the Social Security Administration receives per year, about 14,000 -- or one in every 200 deaths -- are incorrectly entered into its Death Master File, which contains the Social Security numbers, names, birth dates, death dates, zip codes and last-known residences of more than 87 million deceased Americans. That averages out to 38 life-altering mistakes a day.



 



While these errors occur online, in the depths of the administration's database, they have a very real impact on the people who have effectively been declared dead.

"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 in its most recent evaluation of the database.

Laura Brooks, of Spotsylvania, Va., discovered she had been declared dead when she stopped receiving her disability checks, and her rent and student loan payments unexpectedly bounced.

She went to her bank and a representative said her account had been closed because she was dead. Brooks, a 52-year old mother of two, was already on permanent disability because of a severe depressive disorder, so hearing this turned her already difficult world completely upside down.

"It was one of those surreal things, like seeing a UFO," said Brooks. "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."

The bank representative told Brooks she couldn't reopen her account until she could prove she was alive. When she went to the Social Security office in January 2001, she found out she was declared dead on Dec. 6, 2000. To correct this, she had to submit the pay stubs she was receiving from a program that helps people on disability get back to work.

It took two months for the Social Security Administration to finally "revive" her. The administration later explained that a funeral director had mistyped a Social Security number when submitting a death notice to the agency.

Because of that misstep, Brooks said she accumulated between $300 and $400 in fees for bounced checks, and she hadn't received the more than $1,000 in disability payments she was owed. Once she was declared alive again, the Social Security Administration only resumed her payments -- it wouldn't reimburse her for missed payments, she said.

"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."

Making matters worse, Brooks said the Social Security Administration had somehow lost the file containing all of her information, including her disability benefit records and medical history. It took her two years to rebuild it.

Eleven years after being declared dead by the Social Security Administration, Brooks claims the agency has yet to apologize to her for the debacle.

The Social Security Administration said it cannot comment on specific cases but said it works as quickly as it can to fix these types of mistakes and that two months is too long for an error like this to be resolved.

by on Aug. 17, 2011 at 6:14 PM
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Replies (1-10):
CoolMommyofboys
by Member on Aug. 17, 2011 at 8:23 PM

wow...amazing      "The bank representative told Brooks she couldn't reopen her account until she could prove she was alive."

owensmom34
by Bronze Member on Aug. 17, 2011 at 10:03 PM

Wow...this is a terrible mistake.

Charizma77
by Carissa on Aug. 17, 2011 at 10:55 PM

Oh my!

singlemomof2nok
by Bronze Member on Aug. 18, 2011 at 10:39 AM

 It took them 2 months to reinstate her, yet they didn't send her the payments she didn't receive because of their mistake.  I think that is horrible

lalasmama2007
by on Aug. 18, 2011 at 12:16 PM

Wow =(

sheri305
by Bronze Member on Aug. 18, 2011 at 12:33 PM

Quoting singlemomof2nok:

 It took them 2 months to reinstate her, yet they didn't send her the payments she didn't receive because of their mistake.  I think that is horrible


mumsy2three
by on Aug. 18, 2011 at 3:37 PM

yikes!

usmclife58
by on Aug. 18, 2011 at 10:31 PM

Oh my!

blsdbyangel07
by on Aug. 19, 2011 at 8:38 AM

 Yikes!

Stormy6669
by on Aug. 20, 2011 at 12:27 PM

This is horrible.

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