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I'm dead? Woman learns Social Security Administration thought so

Many people probably think that it would be fairly simple for a person to prove that he or she is alive. Just talk to a person and show them some identification. It should be pretty easy, right? Well, one Kansas woman learned that this is not necessarily the case.

This year, the woman and her husband encountered difficulties while e-filing their taxes. They soon learned that they had difficulty filing taxes because the Social Security Administration had declared the woman deceased. According to SSA records, she died in 1990. The SSA keeps a "Death Master File" with information on deceased persons. Somehow, thousands of people who are actually living have been included in that file prematurely.

This woman explains that the mistake made it challenging for her and her husband to file taxes and collect a tax return. In addition, she had difficulty collecting her disability benefits due to the confusion. To be unable to receive one's disability benefits because of an agency's supposed error would be quite frustrating.

The woman reported the error to her local Social Security office, but going to the office in person did not fix the mistake. The error was finally corrected after a news station connected her with her Congresswoman. She reportedly received a letter from a Social Security office stating that the incorrect death record had been removed.

This type of experience points out how important it is for any information sent to the SSA to be free of errors. A person applying for disability benefits or communicating with the SSA for another reason cannot control all of the events within the administration. However, each person can ensure that the information in his or her claim is accurate. One way to ensure this may be to seek guidance from a legal professional.

Source:, "Social Security Administration mistakenly declares Kansas woman dead," Keith King, Nov. 15, 2012

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