Mistaken deaths temporarily stop disability benefits – Part 1

Every year thousands of Americans are incorrectly reported as dead to the Social Security Administration. The mistakenly reported information of people who have actually passed can seriously impact the lives of individuals who receive Social Security Disability Income. In this post and the next, we will discuss the story of one woman whose disability benefits were terminated because of mistaken information and talk about what you can do if it happens to you.

Each year around 2.8 million deaths are reported to the Social Security Administration and of those reported deaths about 14,000 are entered incorrectly. Common information that is mistakenly entered includes Social Security numbers, names, death dates, birth dates, last-known addresses and zip codes. Even though the mistakes are entered innocently, the errors impact real people. One such woman is a 52-year-old mother of two from Spotsylvania, Virginia.

The woman discovered she had mistakenly been declared dead when she stopped receiving her disability benefits check and when her checks for rent and student loans started to bounce. The 52-year-old mother, who suffers a severe depressive disorder, went into her local bank branch and was informed her bank account had been closed because she was dead.

The mother of two was not allowed to reopen her account until she was able to prove she was alive. To correct the mistake, the woman had to submit pay stubs from the Social Security Disability’s Ticket to Work program. The process took two months but in the mean time bank fees and bills accrued. Unfortunately, the Social Security Administration did not provide funds for the bank fees she received or back disability payments.

Next time, we will discuss what you can do if you are incorrectly reported as dead to the Social Security Administration and your disability benefits are impacted.

Source: CNNMoney, “Social Security wrongly declares 14,000 people dead each year,” Blake Ellis, Aug. 17, 2011

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