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In February, Bofferding told a bank employee that “I’m obviously not dead,” but the woman was unable to provide any guidance. So Bofferding called the SSA “and yes, I was dead, according to them,” she said. A Social Security employee told her the California crematorium made the erroneous report, Bofferding said. There appears to be no death certificate currently filed with the state of California, according to Matt Conens, a California Department of Public Health spokesman.
“The manager at my apartment complex put my name on the Internet and it came up that I had died and, you know, if you wanted to say anything nice about me you could add [a comment to] my [online] obituary,” Bofferding said.
The SSA sent her a form to fill out, get notarized and send back. When she heard no more, she called them again. They suggested she visit the local office in Bloomington and make a statement. “I’m alive — living and not deceased,” was all she wrote on the form.
Her March bank statement was a repeat of the month before and then came two letters from the SSA, both dated April 15 and arriving the same day. “One said I was not going to get those [back] checks, the second one said I was going to,” Bofferding said. The payments were later credited to her account and her April statement contained no unwelcome debits.
But her problems were not over. In a trip to urgent care, she was told by a hospital employee that she was uninsured. And then she got a bill saying the same thing. “In all this, I was so upset,” she said. “I called and told them I was insured.” The SSA letter that promised a redeposit of her debited checks also declared her Medicare coverage resumed retroactively. She’s received no further medical bills.
Her late husband’s pension fund administrator also doubted Bofferding’s survival after checking the Death Master File. A letter from the administrator required another visit to the notary public.
A search of the SSA’s Death Master File found no listing for Bofferding under her name or Social Security number.
Unless there’s more red tape, reading a book, walking in the woods and plinking out a song on her upright piano will give Bofferding all the confirmation she needs that life goes on.
Jane Friedmann • 612-673-7852