NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — One man’s been in a battle with the Social Security Administration office in Newport News to simply get the disability checks he’s entitled to.
The checks stopped coming for one reason, a clerical error had the government thinking 64-year-old David Mcpherson Jr. of Newport News was dead.
The problem: Mcpherson is very much alive, in need of his disability check, and he has found it’s tough convincing the federal government he is indeed alive.
We met David L. Mcpherson outside his home to find out how he officially became listed as dead.
“I’m serious…I’m alive…I was dead twice in December and in February.”
It began with a December 2 letter from Aetna Medicare addressed “To the Estate of David L. Mcpherson: Medicare told us about the death of David L. Mcpherson. Please accept our condolences.” Mcpherson said. “I had a fit. I told my wife, ‘they are saying I’m dead.’ “
So Mcpherson went to the Social Security Administration in Newport News.
“They said ‘I’m glad to hear you’re alive, you’re talking.’ They were laughing. I said it’s not funny to me.”
Mcpherson got his December and January $758 disability checks, but not February.
“I went to my account to get some money out to pay some bills, and no check. There was no money in the bank.” That’s right, Mcpherson was dead again, so he goes back to Social Security.
“They said I was dead again. ‘I am not dead. I thought you got that straight in December.’ The person then said, ‘Well, we never took it off the records.’ I then said, ‘Well that’s your fault, not mine.’ “
Tuesday morning, Mcpherson double checked, and Social Security still hasn’t direct deposited his February check, so he called 10 On Your Side for help.
“Hopefully you will go up there and try to convince them to give me my money because they are wrong.”
10 On Your Side climbed into Mcpherson’s car and went to the Social Security Administration in Newport News, but was stopped at the door by security.
After asking to speak with someone about Mcpherson’s dilemma, the security guard quickly escorted 10 On Your Side out of the building.
“You need to step outside right now…no cameras allowed in the building,” the guard said.
The guard made 10 On Your Side leave, but came back and brought a manager, who referred the problem to Social Security in Philadelphia.
“Unfortunately, it appears that human error occurred, and the person who interviewed him did not relay the information to the person who sent him the notice, and his record was placed in a suspense status,” said Daniel N. O’Connor, who is Philadelphia Regional Communications Director for Social Security.
Mcpherson felt hopeful after 10 On Your Side’s meeting with the manager. “(You were) very helpful because you could speak with one of the officials, and I should be able to get my check.”
By early afternoon, it looked like that will happen this week.
O’Connor wrote, “To avoid any additional delay, she (the manager) has also taken action to process a payment directly to his bank account this week…I will be closely monitoring his record to ensure that it is corrected,” O’Connor wrote.
Here is O’Connor’s full statement:
“SSA was notified by another Federal Agency that someone with the same name and similar date of birth as Mr. Mcpherson had died. Since we did not have proof of death a notice was sent to Mr. Mcpherson to contact SSA in person. He did so on December 11. Unfortunately, it appears that human error occurred and the person who interviewed him did not relay the information to the person who sent him the notice, and his record was placed in a suspense status. SSA did “not” show him as deceased in our records. To remove the suspension on his record requires action by staff in a Processing Center which has been initiated by the local SSA District Manager. To avoid any additional delay she has also taken action to process a payment directly to his bank account this week.
“I apologize for the errors and delays in correcting Mr. Mcpherson’s record. Both the local SSA manager and I will be closely monitoring his record to ensure that it is corrected.”
Daniel N. O’Connor
Philadelphia Regional Communications Director
You might be asking, why did the government think David Mcpherson was dead in the first place?
It appears Mcpherson, who never served in the military, has a similar name and birth date of someone who died in the Army. Social Security asked Mcpherson to come in back in December, but then failed to do the proper clerical work that showed he was alive.