What Should I Do if the SSA Declares Me Dead?

In a story that may sound unusual, a woman in Honolulu, Hawaii claims that she was declared dead by the Social Security Administration (SSA). Photo of question

The woman told KITV-TV that she found out in February that she was declared dead when she could not access the checking account where her Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits are deposited. “They just told me, well, I’m sorry we’re showing that you are dead,” the woman told the television station.

After this event, she received a message from a health insurer saying that Medicare also said she was dead. Eventually, the woman decided to visit a local Social Security Administration field office to have this information changed, but she said that it did not help her much. She then began to run out of money and had to take a reverse mortgage out on her home to help her pay her bills.

The woman eventually turned to a U.S. Senator for help and about three weeks later, she was able to access her money again. Still, she said she received no apology from the SSA about the situation.

Sadly, as we reported earlier this year, the SSA estimates that about 1,000 people per month mistakenly turn up on its Death Master File. This file contains information about the birth dates, death dates, zip codes and addresses for more than 87 million dead Americans, but unfortunately, in rare circumstances, some information is mistakenly entered into the file.

Declared Dead by the SSA?

While this situation is unusual, if you find out that you have been declared dead by the SSA, you should contact the SSA as soon as possible to explain your situation. You may have to provide your local field office with documentation verifying your identity in order to have the situation overturned.

If your SSA field office is unhelpful, it may be wise to speak to a local political representative to use his or her power to communicate with the SSA. Additionally, when this occurs, you should check your credit reports to make sure that your identity was not stolen.

Our attorneys represent disabled people attempting to obtain SSDI. If you need assistance with the application or appeals process, speak to our Tulsa disability lawyers.

When stories like this come out in the media, you should be aware that they are extreme cases—when you consider the sheer number of people that collect benefits nationwide, the error rate is very small.

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



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