PELHAM GARDENS, Bronx (WABC) -- Like many retirees a Bronx couple was living on a fixed income, depending on their monthly social security check.
But when that money went missing for more than half a year and frustration and stress got too much - the hard-working senior called 7 On Your Side for help.
The Albarracin family has been locked in a hellish financial bind since last year when Carmelo's social security checks went missing.
He said when they tried to fix the issue, they were told to wait.
The problem getting his benefits began last year when his bank account was hacked.
Carmelo's daughter, Wendy Alvarado, opened a new account for her parents at a different bank and they went to Social Security to change the direct deposit.
"The first time they went, they said, 'oh it's taken care of we changed it to the new account,' and the second time, 'the first person didn't' do their job,'" Alvarado said.
Wendy assumed Power of Attorney for her dad in February, had the document notarized and sent to the SSA.
"And no results, they were very upset, very stressed," she said.
Especially when being cut off, his Medicare bills went past due.
"Each month they would get one delinquent," Alvarado said.
The retiree has five stents in his heart, his cardiology bill was then sent to collections. Carmelo said it made him feel like a criminal.
It came after he spent his life working seven days a week as a New York hospital cook and mechanic to support his family.
The hard-working immigrant from Argentina became a U.S. citizen, bought a home and paid into Social Security every single paycheck for six decades -- now he has gone eight months without his money.
They tried to straighten it out alone and went to the SSA office on Laconia Avenue in person five times -- but still nothing.
Alvarado said that's when she decided she was going to call 7 On Your Side for help.
We contacted the U.S. Social Security Administration and cut through the red tape within a week.
The seven months of benefits Carmelo had earned were finally in the bank, Argentina won the World Cup and Carmelo turned 79.
The Social Security Administration thanked 7 On Your Side for bringing the problem to their attention. If you want to cut through the bureaucracy, make sure to go in person or call, but don't go during the first week of the month or any Wednesday -- those are peak hours because that is when people get paid.
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