May 28, 2017

A Common Story

     From a television station in Denver:
An Arvada woman died about five years ago, but no one told her. And it came as quite a surprise to her late last year.
A mistake by the Social Security Administration put a death alert on Catherine's records -- and it caused problems in every area of her life. ...
Catherine never leaves her west Arvada home without a letter that is an official record of her resurrection from her supposed death. ...
"I couldn't get anybody to tell me what else I could do. So, a year and four months goes by of real hell," she said.
Until the FOX31 Problem Solvers got involved.
"Man, you guys, one phone call, two days later, I was in the Social Security office being helped. And it was taken care of the same day," ...
     I must see a story like this in the media two or three times a week. I rarely post them because they're so repetitive. I guess I'm posting this one because it took so long to get the problem corrected. What was going on here? Usually, the problem is that the undead person has no idea that they need to contact Social Security and wanders around confused about what to do.


Anonymous said...

FOs hate dealing with erroneous deaths. It burns a lot of time. The guidance on handling them is unclear at times. They cause long-reaching problems we have to deal with months down the road. And sometimes, the process that went haywire will keep killing them off.

There's also no accountability. If a state or non-SSA process did the initial death input, we've no way to track it (or stop it from happening again). And even if it came from within your own FO, you can't tell who made the erroneous input.

Anonymous said...

I have, as an attorney, more than once suggested that a client contact one of the local TV stations that have these help lines, when the client is faced with something as annoying, stupid, and time consuming at this type of problem. SSA seems to respond to the press better than attorneys or even Congressional inquires.

Anonymous said...

I will say this, the new DIPS program (Death Input Processing System) unified death inputs and cut down on errors by displaying the person's information to verify before you finish the death input.

In the end, however, it still comes down to the attention (or inattention) of the person pushing the button.

Anonymous said...

The media can be useful.

I had a case a few years ago where my client was the son of Polish immigrants. he was brought to this country in 1947 at the age of 5. He became a US citizen and served in the army for 10 years before mustering out and getting a job in manufacturing.

When he turned 65 the SSA would not give him his retiree benefits because he could not provide them with his original birth certificate. He couldn't provide one, because one was never issued. He was born in a Nazi prison camp. His father was a Polish Army officer and was imprisoned with his wife and family in a POW camp. My client was born in the camp, and the Nazi's weren't inclined to issue a birth certificate.

I explained all this to SSA and they ignored me. I then sent a letter with my proposed press release and told SSA that I would make my client available to the local newspapers and TV stations. SSA responded immediately, and began payment of benefits a few days later.

They just can't stand the light being shined on their behavior.

Anonymous said...

"Usually, the problem is that the undead person has no idea that they need to contact Social Security and wanders around confused about what to do."

Are you insinuating that there are zombies walking among us? ;-)

Anonymous said...

@ 1142--for a US citizen, if there is no discrepancy in the person's DOB on SSA records and the DOB alleged at time of filing for retirement, a birth certificate isn't even needed. If there is a discrepancy, more docs are needed. Goofy of the CR to not realize that there wasn't going to be a b/c in this case.