If you were to have me guess the average amount of living people who are wrongfully declared dead every year, I’d say somewhere around 200. Why 200? Because 50 for people faking their deaths in an insurance scam, 50 criminals who want to get the cops off their backs, and 100 for anyone doing some dark magic shit.
The Office of the Inspector General did an audit of the United States’s Death Master File (aka the Social Security Death Index or “SSDI”) and found that there was likely more than half of a million living Americans that were declared legally dead in the file.
“In 2011, the Office of the Inspector General conducted an audit of the Death Master File, and found that, from May 2007 to April 2010, 36,657 living people (12,219 per year) had been prematurely added, nulling them legally dead. After probing deeper, officials estimated that between 700 and 2,800 people were erroneously declared dead every month since the list’s inception. Over the file’s 35-year history, the Inspector General suspects that more than 500,000 Americans have been affected.”(Priceonomics; Data via the SSA Death Master File)
The inspector general reassured in the report that when you consider that an average of 2.5 million people die every year, 12,000 of the 2.5 million means only 0.48% of the people that are declared legally dead each year are done so in error….seems like someone was doing a little damage control before the report ever even came out!
Listen, I know that only fucking up 12,000 people a year is only getting only o.48% of the list wrong, but frankly that feels like 12,000 too many considering being legally dead cause your life to become a living hell (ha). For starters, you could get totally screwed financially. The Master Death File is public domain (for commercial purposes), meaning just about anyone can see the SSN’s of those who die. Identity thieves will often use social security numbers of dead people from the file and unknowingly be using a credit zombies number rather than a dead person’s and leave you to deal with consequences. Also, your bank or credit card company will freeze your accounts if they see activity from a dead person…for obvious reasons.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, according to the speech Judy Miller gave to theSenate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs:
“I could never have imagined I would reach the point of hopelessness, homelessness, loss of reputation and credibility, unable to obtain a job, an apartment, a student loan, or even a cell phone. Suspected as an identity thief by nearly every apartment manager or Human Resource Director I encountered became a way of life. Each time I got into my car I was panic stricken that the police would stop me and I would have to try and prove my identity.”Judy Miller in 2015 (seven years after she found out that she had been declared legally dead).
Okay, that’s awful. So what’s the reason all these people are on the list? Tax evasion? Insurance fraud? Occultists? Illuminati? Death eaters? Actual Zombies? Nope.
Though I was hoping it was because of some sort of crime scandal, conspiracy, or gross incompetence from the SSA, it’s nothing sensational like that. Allegedly, it’s just because of fucking typos, according to Identity Theft expert Steven Weisman:
They type in a digit wrong on a Social Security Number [called a “keystroke error”] and that is when it starts,” he told CBS News. “Where it is so easy, just a slip of your little finger to kill someone, it’s very difficult to bring someone back to life, and it can be very very frustrating.”Priceonomics via CBS
Wow, so people are getting screwed over because of typos? Someone went to declare someone legally dead and typed in the wrong number? Had I known there would be consequences to these actions I wish I paid more attention typing classes in elementary school. Who’d have thought those keyboard games that were supposed to make us more efficient and skilled at typing actually had some sort of use? Your one grammar nazi friend finally has a legitimate reason to justify acting like an ass. But then again, I never make type ohs.
Does that mean people there are dead people who are legally still alive because the person that went to add them to the Master Death File added the wrong person? If an identity thief were smart, they’d try to find dead people that HAVEN’T been added to the Master Death File yet, so that they (likely) won’t get caught for the person being dead when people run background checks on the number.
This makes me wonder what’s worse: stealing the identity of a living person or dead person? On one hand, if you steal the identity of a living person, you could royally ruin their lives. On the other hand, it’s not like they’ll be using it anytime soon. The problem with that is you could be tarnishing that dead person’s memory and reputation–especially if you steal their identity and use it to do something fucking terrible, like when Terry Ramsussen (AKA “the chameleon killer”) assumed different identities to travel to new areas and kill with a fresh start. That sucks because the people whose identities he stole and the people he killed will forever have a legacy that is overshadowed by their connection to the Chameleon Killer.
If identity thieves do steal the identity of a dead person whose legally declared living, what is their nickname…Debit Ghosts? What happens if the bank notices suspicious activity on a legitimately dead person’s account that’s declared living? Paranormal activity? HA! I’m fucking hilarious.
I’ll leave you with this: if you are declared legally dead, make like Jesus Christ and ressurect yourself ASAP before it becomes too late.
Donald E. Miller Jr., an Ohio man was declared legally dead in 1994. He resurfaced in 2013 and sued to be declared alive, but the court declined and ruled he was still legally dead because Ohio state law did not allow reversing legal declarations of death if more than three years had passed.—Wikipedia, Legal Death.
Basically, if you wait too long, it can become a life or death situation!
At first, I thought it was crazy that the government could even be allowed to do that, but it’s low-key fair fi you think about it. Basically the government told that guy “when you faked your own death, you didn’t pay taxes for 20 years, so you’re not getting the benefits that those taxes pay for.”
In some countries and in certain scenarios, if you fake your own death, the government won’t give a shit if someone else kills you because how do you arrest someone for killing someone who was already dead? You can’t kill someone who is already dead. Essentially you’d be Theon from GoT:
Moral of the story: technology is literally killing us.