Make Sure that Social Security Knows You Are not Dead

A Social Security benefits recipient went to his local office to find out why he stopped receiving checks. “You’re deceased,” they told him. It would take three to four months to clear that up, they said. He asked how he was going pay rent and make his car payments. “They didn’t seem to be too concerned,” he noted.

Things worked out for this man, though. He happened to run into his US Senator at a Fourth of July ceremony. An aide of the Senator listened to the story, and just four days later, the man started receiving his benefits again. Senators are not readily accessible for most of us, however, so when the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) makes an error with your disability benefits application, it may be months – or longer – before the SSA fixes it.

Statistical analyses reveal that about 14,000 people who are not deceased find themselves on the SSA’s “Death Master File” every year due to typing errors of SSA workers. The states with the highest errors on the Death Master File are Illinois (13.2 percent), Louisiana (15), Massachusetts (10.1) and Rhode Island (12.7). Oklahoma has a somewhat high rate of 9.5 percent, with 357 Oklahomans wrongly finding themselves on the SSA’s deceased list each year.

The ramifications of wrongly finding yourself on the Death Master File get worse as time goes on, so you should alert the SSA as soon as you find a problem. Social Security beneficiaries have had problems with credit ratings, banks and finding a job all because of a clerical error with the Death Master File. The SSA has publicly available copies of the Death Master File on its website.

Troutman & Troutman, P.C. – Tulsa Social Security disability attorneys

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