Man with special needs mistakenly declared dead by SSA

Nina Pineda Image
Friday, April 26, 2024
Man with special needs mistakenly declared dead by SSA
Kevin Gill was declared dead by the SSA after his mother's passing but was actually alive.

NEW JERSEY (WABC) -- Imagine receiving a letter from a federal agency stating that you died.

That's what happened to a man with special needs in New Jersey.

Being declared deceased by the Social Security Administration means ending vital benefits and health insurance. It wreaked havoc on his entire family's finances.

Kevin Gill still can't look at his mom's pictures without breaking down.

"You know, my brother is very emotional about it obviously. My mother was his primary caregiver," said Karen O'Boyle, Kevin's sister.

They had been inseparable for 62 years.

Kevin is the second oldest son in a Staten Island family of five kids.

His mom, Virginia, provided full-time care for him ever since he was born.

He is mostly non-verbal and has some intellectual disabilities. But his mom always pushed him forward. She died on Christmas Eve, and somehow, both she and her son were declared deceased at the same time.

That April 1 notice was a killer. Despite numerous attempts to resurrect their brother's status, Kevin's Social Security stopped and his health insurance, Medicare, was cut off.

Plus, SSA wanted its money back, clawing back benefits to his erroneous death date in December.

"His medical care is canceled effectively as a result of this," O'Boyle said.

Kevin has numerous health issues, and medications, and needs another cataract surgery soon, but despite multiple attempts to revive his status, they were locked out of their government account.

"It's, it's been really hard, really hard and frustrating. Because it's all you get is bureaucratic red tape, and no sense of urgency. That's the part that's really hard," O'Boyle said.

So, after trying for weeks trying to rectify it, O'Boyle asked 7 On Your Side for help.

"We've seen your show quite a bit, right? Your segments, and you get results, you know. And I think that's one of the great things about where we are in this and what we have in this country. The press helps you know, it does. I really believe that. I don't think we would get action otherwise," O'Boyle said.

7 On Your Side contacted SSA and within days the agency changed Kevin's life, literally.

His account was rectified and he got a check for back benefits for $4,576.

"Thank you so much, Nina! It's been such a stressful time and you have been awesome. Thank you," O'Boyle said.

"We are really grateful for what you did for us," Kevin's brother said.

SSA thanked 7 On Your Side for bringing the problem to their attention. They said that 3.1 million deaths get reported and less than one-third of 1% have to be corrected.

Declared dead resurrection steps:

- Report to SSA ASAP (bring ID)

- Find the source of the mistake

- Inform credit agencies

- Request lost benefits in writing

- Visit your bank in person



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