In this country, a Social Security number basically creates your identity for life. Employment applications, bank accounts, veterans’ benefits, your credit rating, your estate planning documents and seemingly everything else that matters is tied to your Social Security number. So what happens when the Social Security Administration refuses to accept that they have made a mistake?
In a recent case, a Texas man who was born on March 2, 1920 was somehow given an inaccurate birth date of March 20 by the Social Security Administration. He wasn’t aware of the problem until he started trying to use his Medicare benefits. When the WWII veteran tried to use his card at a pharmacy, it was rejected and he had to pay for his prescriptions out of his own money.
Once he discovered the problem, he took his birth certificate with the correct date on it to his local Social Security office. The local office told him that they would address it with the national office. Soon after, he received a letter from the national Social Security office telling him that he had to use the date of birth THEY had given him. The man and his daughter turned to a local TV station for help with the problem. While a reporter was investigating the story, the man received a second letter from the SSA telling him that the problem had been corrected and apologizing to him for his inconvenience.
While this man’s problem was eventually solved after 93 years, what if he had needed immediate medical attention and had no money to pay out-of-pocket? Before you discover a similar problem with your Social Security identity, check to make sure that there are no discrepancies with your information. Remember also that every time you change your name, you must notify them as well. So women who have been married and never changed their Social Security information from their maiden name may find that their number doesn’t match their name. Because you probably have numerous pieces of your estate planning documents that depend on you having a correct Social Security number, make sure that they are all correct and that the SSA has the correct information. It could save you and your loved ones from having to fight the government for your benefits.
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