Hey Social Security, I'm not dead!

These people had to fight for their lives after being mistakenly declared dead by the Social Security Administration.

`You look pretty good for a dead woman'
`You look pretty good for a dead woman'
Name: Carol Combes
Declared dead: May 13, 2010
Age: 72

I went to the bank one day and the woman there said, `Oh boy am I glad to see you!' I asked why, and she said, `We just closed all your accounts because we got word you died.'

I laughed and said, `Okay, whatever.' But then we found out I really couldn't use any of my accounts. They not only closed my account, they closed the joint accounts with my son. She said I better go to the Social Security Office, so I went and it took six to eight weeks until they reinstated me. During that time, my Social Security payments stopped, and I didn't get two to three payments.

Once I was reinstated I got those missed payments, but the irony of the whole thing was that, as soon as I was reinstated I died again two months later when someone at Social Security pushed another wrong button -- and everything started all over again.

All my credit card companies cut me off because I was dead, and my Social Security payments stopped again. Overall, it took two-and-a-half to three months to no longer be listed as dead. When people would ask me how I lived during this time, I said, `Well I'm married to a guy named Rich!' But I know I wouldn't have taken it so calmly if I had depended on those payments for food or living expenses or needed to use those bank accounts.

I wasn't mad until I found out that my Social Security number was being blasted all over the Internet. I'm a historian and I compile all the town cemetery records so I spend lots of time in the local graveyard writing down tombstone information. I was sitting at my computer doing these records one day and looked on Ancestry.com to check the date someone had died -- and there I found myself in the death records with my live Social Security number. So even though the problem is fixed, my Social Security number and birth date were still showing up everywhere on the computer for anyone to see.

I live in a small town, and to this day, when I walk around people will joke, `You look pretty good for a dead woman!'


By Blake Ellis - Last updated August 24 2011: 2:27 PM ET

When the Social Security Administration erroneously declares you dead, it can be a financial -- and psychological -- nightmare to revive yourself.

Find Homes for sale
  • Property Type
  • Find a home in:
    New York | Atlanta | Chicago | Los Angeles
    Washington D.C | Houston | Philadelphia | More options
Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.