Dead? If Social Security says yes, it's tough to prove otherwise - WFLA News Channel 8

Dead? If Social Security says yes, it's tough to prove otherwise

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Paula Bordon is very much alive.

But agency after agency keeps saying she's dead.

"I was upset, and I figured there was a screw-up someplace, but where was it," Bordon said.

Bordon first learned of her supposed death in late October, when her bank sent a letter offering condolences to her family.

Bank of America was notified of the death by the Social Security Administration.

It turns out, a funeral home director mistakenly typed the last two digits in a social security number when reporting a client deceased.

That wrong number was Bordon's.

"Oh, am I angry."

After three hours at her local Social Security Office, she thought the mistake was fixed.

Since then, though, it's been problem after problem.

Her pension was cut off, her credit cards wouldn't work, she couldn't cash checks, couldn't buy groceries. Even her health insurance was canceled.

"They wouldn't pay one of the doctors because I went for a visit after I was dead," she said.

Bordon is one of three people to contact 8 On Your Side with the same problem within the past two months.

Disabled veteran James Hanna was declared dead by the VA.  It's been months, and he's still having problems.

"They were getting ready to do away with my social security number," Hanna said.

Just like Bordon, every time Hanna thinks all is well, someone else cuts off his credit.

And you could be next.  8 On Your Side has discovered that the Social Security Administration lists more than 1,000 living Americans as dead every month.  No matter where the mistake starts, once it gets to social security, your name is entered into something called a "death master file."  That information is shared with agencies all over the country.

So why is it so easy to report a live person as dead?  No one from social security would grant us an interview, but we kept calling with questions.

A spokesman told me these mistakes happen, and when they do, the office corrects it quickly. But, he said, it can't do anything to stop the mistake from spreading.

We took these concerns to U.S. Representative Kathy Castor, who's been following Hanna's problems.  Castor said Congress should hold the VA and Social Security accountable.

"I think it's outrageous for an American veteran to be subjected to that kind of red tape," she said.

"They absolutely do have a responsibility to fix it, otherwise innocent people have to go through a very difficult time," she said. "It can affect their credit, it can affect their bank accounts, the bills that come in. It's just not fair. These agencies have to respond much faster."

So what should you do if this happens to you?  Contact Social Security as soon as you discover someone thinks you're dead.  Also, check with your county clerk's office to make sure someone hasn't filed a death certificate in your name.  If you don't get anywhere with federal agencies, call your representative of Congress.

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