Local

2 Investigators: Woman Mistakenly Declared Dead Instead Of Daughter

Send Your Tips To Pam Zekman
Pam Zekman Pam Zekman
Pulitzer-prize winning reporter Pam Zekman serves on CBS 2 Chicago’s...
Read More
Featured & Trending:

Latest News Headlines:

Get Breaking News First

Receive News, Politics, and Entertainment Headlines Each Morning.
Sign Up

(CBS) – Every month, as many as 800 people are incorrectly listed as deceased by the Social Security Administration. It’s a problem the 2-Investigators first highlighted earlier this year and now Pam Zekman finds other victims of this bureaucratic mistake, who were devastated by the aftermath of the gaffe.

“I just don’t understand how this happened…. it takes one minute to mess your life up, to mark you as being deceased and like a lifetime to get it back,” said Carol Ellis.

The news of Carol Ellis’ premature death came in the mail. The letter read, “…condolences to her estate.” It notified her loved ones that Carol Ellis’ credit accounts would be closed.

Her reaction to the news was pure shock.

“It rocked my world, I called them and I asked where did you get this information,” Ellis said.

It turns out, Ellis’ daughter Christina died two months prior and the Social Security Administration mistakenly listed Ellis as deceased on the same day.

“Its a horrible thing you know, especially after just losing your daughter,” Ellis said.

The Social Security Administration says Carol Ellis’ reported death was the result of a “Keying” error. They gave her a letter stating that she is in fact alive and they said they were sorry for the mistake.

But even though the Social Security Administration admitted its mistake Ellis’ problems are not over.

As she leads the children at her home-daycare in a round of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” Ellis worries that the damage to her credit and identity records will affect her business. Ellis has been told it will take at least another 45 days to restore things back to normal.

“Providing for 16 or more kids, I need my cash flow and I need all these things, I need my valid license, I need my insurance, I need all of these things to run my business,” Ellis said.

As the 2-Investigators previously reported, it took Jo Ann Metternich and Laurie Villareal and her daughter months to prove they were still alive after similar mistakes by the Social Security Administration.

And then there’s the case of Ethel Funderburg. Funderburg, listed as having died on the same day as her ex-husband, heard about the mistake when a pension fund canceled her payments.

“I said I’m not deceased, I’m Ethel, I’m talking to you and I was told yes, but your deceased,” Funderburg said.

Funderburg lost her insurance and an $1,800 a month state pension for four months before those mistakes were corrected.

“It just goes on and on and on and it destroys your life,” said Funderburg.

The Social security administration says they process 235,000 deaths a month and continue to improve the death collection process to reduce errors. In the meantime, Carol Ellis hopes she can keep her business afloat while her records are corrected.