Social security mix-up

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Seven On Your Side
March 1, 2010 2:53:15 PM PST
A Queens man died suddenly of a stroke, leaving behind a disabled son, a widow, and a stack of bills. And then the social security checks stopped coming. It was up to a daughter to fulfill a promise to take care of the family she made long ago. Darlene Mussara's disabled brother Michael needs constant care. It was her pledge to her dad to always take care of him. "10 years ago he came to me and my husband and said, 'If something happens to me, will you take care of Michael?' And I promised. I promised."

But that promise proved hard to keep when her dad died this past Thanksgiving and the social security checks, nearly $3,000, stopped coming.

Mom, who once wouldn't leave the dance floor is now bedridden, suffering from her own health problems.

"My mom is home bound," says daughter Darlene. "She cannot get to the social security office. I have power of attorney. I would have to make a trip."

After 4 months trying to get a result from social security, Darlene got a tax bill and a big heating bill for her parent's home. She did 2 things. She dipped in to the family's savings to pay the bills, and she called for 7 on your side.

"The head honcho in the Manhattan offices of the social security department said he was going to look into it cause his friend at 7 on your side had called him." It turns out a code mix up stopped the checks for Michael Finelli Sr. and his son, who had been under his father's benefits.

Finally, the family got their two checks nearly $6,000 in back benefits.

And more importantly, a daughter can keep the promise she made her dad so many years ago.

So what happened? The family says social security explained someone mistakenly believed her dad's pension benefits would be coming from the Pennsylvania Railroad. Mr. Fanelli worked as the building manager for the Pennsylvania Hotel in midtown Manhattan. ----

Story by: Nina Pineda

Produced by: Steve Livingstone