In a strange story that is getting national attention, a Florida man has been denied Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) on two occasions because he has been wrongly labeled as a prison inmate.
According to the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Fernando Ortiz, 57, of Fort Lauderdale, has had his SSDI benefits discontinued twice after being falsely accused of being incarcerated. Ortiz suffers from diabetes and needs his Social Security checks to support himself.
For some reason, the Social Security Administration has gotten him confused with an inmate who is in prison outside of Boston. Ortiz has had to prove on each occasion that he lives with his wife and 3-year-old granddaughter in order to qualify for his monthly $1,600 checks.
“I don’t want this to happen to anyone else,” Ortiz said. “It’s a horrible thing to put people through.”
The SSA could not comment on Ortiz’s case when reached by the Sun Sentinel, because it involved personal information. According to the paper, “prison officials in Massachusetts say mistaken identity occurs more often than you might think.”
Terrel Harris, communications director for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, told the Sun Sentinel that convicted criminals typically enter prison with multiple names and Social Security numbers. “It’s pretty common,” Harris, told the paper. “We try our best to help the Social Security Administration and the Internal Revenue Service to clear up concerns.”
At one point, things got so bad for Ortiz that he received a letter demanding that he pay back $6,883.60 for the “overpayment” of his benefits. Ortiz said that he stopped receiving SSDI deposits until the Sun Sentinel called the Social Security Administration in Washington. He has since received an apology from the SSA and his Medicare eligibility was restored.
If you suspect your SSDI payments have been delayed or discontinued due to an error, you should contact your local Social Security office immediately. You can also contact a Tulsa Social Security disability attorney. We offer free consultations, and you may reach us by phone at (918) 587-0050. Contact us today.
Troutman & Troutman, P.C. – Tulsa Social Security disability attorneys