This woman is desperately trying to prove she's not dead

Picture:  Ian McDonnell/iStock
Picture: Ian McDonnell/iStock

Due to a bureaucratic error, a woman from Utah, US has been declared dead, and the government is trying to reclaim all of the pension and medical payments they have given her since July 2014.

In August Barbara Murphy, a 64 year old resident of Roy, Utah was declared dead by the US federal government, after a death certificate from 2014 bearing her name was connected to her social security account. Murphy is not dead. She is alive, well, and according to the news station KSL, Murphy has taken to answering the phone with the greeting 'This is the walking dead'.

As amusing as the error sounds, it's having some harsh consequences on Murphy's life.

As a result of being declared dead for 25 months and counting, the government is demanding her family repay thousands of dollars worth of social security (state pension) cheques. When Murphy tried to use her credit card in a restaurant on August 12, it was declined because the Social Security Administration (SSA) had informed the bank of her 'death', and the bank had frozen her accounts. Luckily she was able to correct this issue.

Murphy has contacted her senator, Orrin Hatch, but has had no response. After visiting a local office of the SSA, Murphy was unable to get an appointment ticket because the automated system said her social security number was invalid. After waiting in line, and speaking to a supervisor, she signed a letter contesting the fact she was dead.

The SSA informed Murphy that her account with them would be reactivated. Despite this, other departments within the SSA had ploughed ahead, and have been contacting all of the medical facilities Murphy has used in the past two years, and asked the facilities to repay any money they received from the government for treating Murphy. She has been writing to the facilities to warn them not to give the government any of the money, seeing as she is still alive.

Murphy praised her local bank for being helpful, and preventing the government from reclaiming social security payments from her joint account with her husband.

Speaking to KSL a regional spokesperson for the SSA explained that this mistake is extremely rare, and they had given Murphy a telephone number to call for assistance.

We may never know how it happened. We focus on fixing the issue...We post about 2.8 million new reports of death each year from many sources, including family members, funeral homes, financial institutions, postal authorities, states and other federal agencies, and around one-third of 1 percent are subsequently corrected.

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