Social Security Office marks living woman as dead, won’t help her change status

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A woman from Arvada, Colorado recently heard some alarming news.  According to official records, she died approximately five years ago.

A woman known as “Catherine” (she’s requested that her identity be protected) found out that a clerical error by the Social Security Administration put a death alert on her records in 2012. Catherine learned about the mistake when she went to a Lakewood Department of Motor Vehicles office to get a replacement ID card in 2015. Apparently, an errant keystroke created a mistake she said caused problems in all area’s of her life.

“Everything in my life came to a screeching halt,” Catherine said. She reports that the error left her unable to get a license or job, and she could not fall back on social services, either.

After discovering the folly, she set about trying to fix it. Transferred from one SSA office to another, Catherine says trying to resolve the issue was even more frustrating. “I couldn’t get anybody to tell me what else I could do. She said the one year and four months she spent trying to get help was “real hell.”

Fed up, Catherine contacted a local station, FOX31, and asked their “Problem Solvers” to intervene. Catherine says everything was taken care of after that. “One phone call made by Fox31 and two days later I was in the Social Security office being helped. It was taken care of the same day,” she said.

With her new ID card, Catherine feels like she has her life back. “Yeah, I’m resurrected,” Catherine said, happy to report that, “Social Security says ‘I’m alive.'”

The Lakewood Social Security office apologized for the “inconvenience” it caused. SSA spokesman John Bryant said this type of mistake is uncommon. While mistakes account for only one-third of 1 percent of the 2.8 million deaths reported to SSA each year, that still means there are approximately 7,400 mistaken deaths reported per year, more than 600 every month.

Another retired woman, Sandra Siddall, from Brooklyn Park, Minnesota reports that she too was listed as dead, and she had a terrible time proving that she was still alive. Her problems may stem from from the fact that her ex-husband actually did die. His death occurred on the same day as listed on her death record, which could indicate another clerical error.

As for Catherine, today she always carries an official letter that verify’s she is not, in fact, dead. “I do carry the letter, just in case,” she said, stating before her “resurrection,” she felt like a “ghost in my own society, and it’s a horrible feeling.”

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