Government Declares Living Veteran Dead Twice
Veteran James Smith says the government has declared him dead twice. (Courtesy: WSMV, CNN)
By Nancy Amons
Murfreesboro, TN (WSMV) — A Murfreesboro man who was accidentally declared dead in April was beginning to get his life back, but now the government thinks he’s dead again, and said he owes them a lot of money.
James Scott got a letter from the VA dated Sept. 7. It was addressed to the estate of James Scott and expressed condolences.
The letter went on to say Scott’s estate owes money for VA benefits it sent to Scott, but that Scott didn’t deserve, since he was dead.
“According to the government, I owe them over $6,000,” Scott said.
As an Army veteran, Scott knows about bureaucracy, but he said it’s not fun anymore, trying to find someone in the government who can fix this problem.
“I’ve been passed around like a bad cold,” he said.
In April, Scott learned the VA had him mixed up with another James Scott from Tennessee who had recently died. It’s been a paperwork nightmare ever since.
Social Security mistakenly declares about 1,000 people dead every month who aren’t, according to one government report.
Being dead has a lot of unpleasant side effects.
“Different accounts were frozen. I couldn’t go in and draw out my own personal money,” Scott said.
He said his credit score dropped 100 points because of all the inquiries on his account.
“I was in the process of refinancing when all this happened, and now I’m paying a higher interest rate on a condo because of my demise,” he said.
Scott said it’s been interesting, explaining all this to strangers who call to express their sympathy. For example, he said, one woman from Discover called to close out the deceased’s credit card.
“When I explained to her that I was the deceased, she kind of froze in spot. I don’t think she had ever talked to a dead person,” Scott said.
“I have great days. Then I have days when it’s just so frustrating,” he said.