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May 12th, 2009

SS Stimulus Checks Mailed to the Deceased



An 83-year-old Maryland man received a Social Security stimulus check in the mail the other day; but it wasn’t for him. The check was for his mother who died nearly 42 years ago. Humored more than anything by the mistake, James Hagner asked if he could frame the check as a souvenir.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) doesn’t seem too worried about the mix up. In fact, the SSA expects that of the 52 million checks mailed out, about 10,000 will be sent to the deceased. Social Security officials say the (potential) $2,500,000 loss is the result of their hurried efforts to mail out the checks before summer:

The agency blames the error on the strict mid-June deadline of mailing out all of the checks, which didn’t leave officials much time to clean up all of their records.

Avoiding Scams

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire; where there’s government money, there are scams. The SSA in conjunction with advocacy groups is warning the elderly to beware of scammers:

AARP, the advocacy group for older Americans, says some scammers are trying to capitalize on confusion among Social Security recipients about how to qualify for stimulus money. At the root of the confusion are differences in the way stimulus payments are being distributed this year, versus last year, says Danielle Holland, senior manager for economic security at AARP.

Under last year’s stimulus bill, the Internal Revenue Service distributed payments. To receive one, a person had to file a tax return — even if he or she hadn’t earned enough income to otherwise have to do so.

The process requires absolutely no action beyond depositing or cashing the check, advises SSA spokesman Mark Hinkle. “No action at all is required. You don’t have to fill out or file anything, make any phone calls or go to any Web sites.”

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Tim Manni is the Managing Editor of HSH.com and the author of their daily blog, which concentrates on the latest developments in the mortgage and housing markets.

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