US Bureaucrats 'Kill' Thousands Each Year (by Typos)

Social Security mistakes cause huge hassles for the living
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 17, 2011 3:32 PM CDT
A woman walks past a sign for the Social Security Administration in Los Angeles in this file photo.   (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)

(Newser) – The Social Security Administration is killing off thousands of Americans every year, at least temporarily. About one in 200 deaths typed into the agency's Death Master File carries a misprint that officially terminates a living person, cutting off credit, bank accounts, and government assistance for the newly "dead," the Chicago Tribune reports. The risk of identity theft also spikes for victims of death-by-bureaucracy when their personal information is released.

“It was one of those surreal things, like seeing a UFO,“ says Laura Brooks, a Virginia woman told by her bank that she had died. Only after visiting a Social Security office was she "revived," but it took months, and her lost disability checks were never reimbursed. What to do if the government kills you by mistake? Show your death certificate to the office that first reported your demise, fill out the proper forms to get it amended, and prove your existence (with photo ID) to Social Security, banks, and credit bureaus.

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