Although I still work, am very healthy and have no plans to collect Social Security benefits early (I have to wait until I'm 66 to get full benefits), my friends were telling me that they've received "estimated benefit" statements from Social Security for many, many years. I never have and everyone thought that was curious.
Finally, I got around to calling Social Security to see why, and to see if I could get an estimate of benefits. The person on the phone told me there was a discrepancy in the file and that's all she could tell me. I told her she was freaking me out as the only thing I was really worried about was identity theft.
She assured me my identity had not been stolen but that I had to make an appointment with Social Security and see them face to face, bringing ID with me. She made an appointment for me and I went.
Frankly, it was even hard getting into the San Francisco Social Security office as the security is something I've never seen, even in the world's trouble spots. First, they made you wait outside the door as they only let one person in at a time. Then, you had to take off everything, even things I'm never asked to remove at an airport, and then be videotaped.
I finally got to see someone, and I still don't understand it all. I was told that there are two records. One of my records correctly recorded my earnings but the other record (whatever that was) showed me as dead -- for the past 16 years!
How it happened is a mystery to everyone, but I'm glad I discovered it before I needed to collect benefits. At this point, I'm assuming it's been corrected. But I have to say, I don't even know for sure. My confidence level is so low now, I just hope I don't get to the point of needing to collect benefits and have to go through the pain of trying to correct it again.
When the Social Security Administration erroneously declares you dead, it can be a financial -- and psychological -- nightmare to revive yourself.
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