`My life is still a nightmare'
`My life is still a nightmare'
Name: Madeline Coburn
Declared dead: Jan. 2007
Age: 40

I was a student at Webster University and was selected to go to Ghana as part of an international business intern exchange program. When I applied for financial aid, in 2007, I got a letter back saying I had been denied -- because I had died.

I talked to someone at my university and said: `How could this be? I'm standing right here -- you can see me.' And I found out from Social Security that I had been reported dead to the credit bureaus in January.

Apparently, a mysterious phone call had been made on my behalf, saying that I had died, and that my attorney would be handling all of my assets.

Soon after I found out about this, my bank account was closed and my balance was sold to a third-party collections agency. My school wouldn't even let me graduate. They said I couldn't continue classes until I got this identity thing figured out.

I'm on disability benefits for a heart disease, so when Social Security listed me as dead, my disability payments stopped coming. They eventually resumed when I proved to them I was alive, but I'm still dead everywhere else.

My life is still a nightmare three years later, after correcting errors with the Social Security Administration. I am disabled with no health care insurance and could not purchase my heart and blood pressure medicine.

I can't open a bank account in my name, and I couldn't renew my driver's license until I had someone come into the police station and vouch for me. I can't even get a full-time job to bring in money because no one will hire me once they find out I'm dead.


Last updated August 24 2011: 2:27 PM ET

When the Social Security Administration erroneously declares you dead, it can be a financial -- and psychological -- nightmare to revive yourself.

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