Mistaken deaths temporarily stop disability benefits – Part 2

During our last post, we wrote about how thousands of Americans are incorrectly reported as dead to the Social Security Administration. The mistaken death reports, though made innocently, have a real and detrimental impact on those who receive Social Security Disability Income and other federal benefits. Last time we also spoke about the story of one woman who was mistakenly reported as dead, and this time we will talk about what can be done if the same thing happens to you.

The Social Security Administration does not deny that mistaken death reports are entered into their database. As many as 36,657 mistaken deaths have been reported over the past three years. Once mistaken information is entered into the system, the information is forwarded to banks and credit bureaus. People who have mistakenly been reported as dead lose their ability to apply for credit and are at a higher risk for identity theft. To avoid financial hardship if you are mistakenly reported dead to the Social Security Administration, the Identity Theft Resource Center recommends the following steps.

To begin, find out who reported you as dead. Obtain a copy of your incorrect death certificate from the county clerk’s or recorder’s office where the death was reported. Next, fill out a form to have the death certificate amended. The death certificate will list the name of the person who reported the mistaken death. The person who reported your mistaken death is usually required to sign the amended certificate too.

To change the record of your mistaken death with the Social Security Administration, you need to make an appointment at your local Social Security office. Be sure to bring photo identification and the certified copy of the amended death certificate to the appointment. People at the Social Security Administration are willing to help.

After you correct the mistaken information with the Social Security Administration, the Identity Theft Resource Center recommends that you contact your financial institutions and any other relevant organization that received the mistaken information.

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

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