Woman Puzzled After Showing Up Dead In State's System - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

Woman Puzzled After Showing Up "Dead" In State's System

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Most people don't need a written statement to prove that they're alive. Brenda Fricks of Belton does.

"Brenda LeAnn Fricks is not deceased and has never shown up on our records as being deceased," said Brenda, while reading a letter from the Social Security Administration.      

Brenda says she first had to pick up one of these letters three years ago, when she was applying for Medicaid.

"The first time, I was sitting there looking at them right there in front of their face. And they're sitting there telling me I'm deceased," said Brenda. "I was kind of shocked, you know, at first."

But Brenda said it kept happening, at places like the bank.

"They told me I was showing up as deceased," said Brenda.

It also happened at her local SC Department of Social Services office, when she went in to recertify her food stamps.

"About every three months, something like that, they'll come up and tell me I'm dead," said Brenda. "I had in my head that someone stole my identity or something."

Turns out, that's not the case.

DSS told us the problem stemmed from the state's death records through the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control. Brenda's social security number was actually listed on a death certificate to someone of a different race and gender.

We asked SC DHEC spokesperson Lindsey Evans how this could have happened.

"A funeral home submitted incorrect social security information to us. DHEC had no way of knowing at the time if the information was correct," said Evans. "But the error was brought to the attention of DHEC's bio-statistics director and it was corrected within 24 hours."

And Brenda is back to being, well, alive again, and can finally toss out her written proof.

DHEC says this sort of thing does happen occasionally but that it has a computer system in place that catches most errors.

DHEC wouldn't say the name of the funeral home that made the error or when it actually first happened.

Brenda tells us, she hasn't had any more problems.

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