A woman was declared dead by the government almost 20 years ago and has been unable to hold down a job since – she says her life has become a living nightmare.
Madeline-Michelle Carthen said she was barred from college and unable to buy a house because of “corruption” that has dogged her for years.
“A nightmare of corruption. No government control,” she told a local NBC affiliate.
In 2007, Carthen was a student at Webster University majoring in entrepreneurship and business technology. but he was denied financial support.
“Now they’re saying, ‘Prove to us you’re not dead,'” she told the outlet at the time.
She added that the lender sent her documents stating that she was “deceased” and that the credit reports proved the same.
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Because of the problem, Carthen was unable to graduate and the situation has only gotten worse.
“It messed up my whole life,” she said.
“It affected my life financially. If I wanted to buy a house, this wouldn’t happen.”
She can’t get a mortgage and keeping a job has become impossible.
“It’s just a matter of waiting for my Social Security number to catch up with me and then they have to let me go… HR can’t process payroll,” she said.
According to the Social Security Advisory BoardIn the United States, the government incorrectly labels up to 12,000 living people as dead each year.
The reason for this is often as simple as someone typing in the wrong number.
Although it only happens to a small number of people, the consequences are devastating.
The Social Security Administration creates a list called the Death Master File, which contains information about people with Social Security numbers whose deaths were reported to the SSA from 1962 to the present.
When a person is added, places like banks, the IRS, and Medicare delete them from life.
However, adding a person by mistake can have devastating consequences.
“It can really impact every single aspect of your life,” said Creighton Cohn, a consumer protection attorney.
If a person is wrongfully declared dead, there are suchto solve the problem.
“So the first thing is to find out where the information comes from, so get your credit report. That’s always the first thing you need to do, and you should always get it from annualcreditreport.com,” Cohn said.
Carthen said she tried this method but received error messages in return.
“I just want direct answers and I haven’t been able to get them,” she said.
Carthen filed a lawsuit against the SSA and other government agencies in 2019, seeking more than $12 million in damages.
However, a judge dismissed the lawsuit because the government enjoys sovereign immunity.