SSA declares 14K living Americans dead

Aug. 17, 2011 at 1:21 PM

NEW YORK, Aug. 17 (UPI) -- About 14,000 people are incorrectly declared dead by the Social Security Administration every year, officials say.

That translates to about one of every 200 of the 2.8 million death reports the agency receives each year, or 38 a day, CNN reports.

The names are entered into the death master file of Social Security numbers, names, birth dates, death dates and last known residences, the U.S. Network says.

Those incorrectly declared dead can have their benefits terminated, and the information is sold to the public, banks and credit bureaus. So victims can lose the ability to apply for credit and face possible identity theft.

"It is unfortunate, but some of the death data that we post to our records ... proves to be wrong and we correct it as soon as possible," SSA spokesman Mark Hinkle said. "Usually the error was inadvertently caused because of a human typing error when death information was entered into a computer system."

The administration says it corrects the errors when it sees victims in person with current identification and sometimes writes letters they can use to prove they're alive.

"We take these situations seriously and wish they didn't happen at all, but when we find out it has occurred, we help the person fix it," Hinkle said.

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