CHICAGO (CBS) — An 80-year-old Chicago woman is still fighting to access her Social Security money days after CBS 2 first got involved.
It is because of debit card problems that CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov reported Monday are plaguing people across the country.
Ida Walker was frail and exhausted as she left a Social Security office on Monday. On Friday, a Social Security Administration employee told Walker to go in person – so as finally to solve a problem she has had with her U.S. Direct Express debit card, which is linked to her Social Security funds.
Walker spent three hours in the Social Security office on Monday.
When asked if they were able to work it out, Walker said, “That, I don’t know.”
We first told you about Walker’s ordeal Thursday. She and her granddaughter have spent three weeks calling the U.S. Direct Express to activate a replacement card – only to get the runaround.
It meant she was cut off from her funds. And guess what happened on Monday.
“They’re saying that we can now use the cards – just activate the numbers on the cards, and it will be no problem,” said Walker’s granddaughter, LaShawna
But that’s exactly what they have already been trying to do for three weeks.
Based on the response we got to our initial story about Ida Walker’s frustrating attempts to access her Social Security funds and activate her Direct Express card, hers is not an isolated case.
Kozlov heard from a dozen people, by phone and email, who have the same problem.
“A Direct Express nightmare across the country,” one person wrote. Another reported that they lost hope.
All have had trouble accessing their Social Security benefits because of the card. The Better Business Bureau reports 771 complaints with Comerica Bank, which runs Direct Express, in just the past three years.
We’ve learned the U.S. Treasury Department’s Bureau of Fiscal Service renewed its contract with Comerica Bank in 2015, with that contract set to expire last week.
The contract’s cost to taxpayers, according to a Treasury Inspector General audit, is $38 million to $42 million.
And yet, issues persist – and Walker’s car still isn’t activated.
Kozlov has been in touch with Comerica and Bureau of Fiscal Service representatives. She has repeatedly asked about ongoing debit card issues, which they still have not addressed.
But Walker’s granddaughter said they talked to a Comerica employee Monday evening, who said the problem is finally being resolved. A representative blamed the matter on a fraud protection trigger.