EULESS, Texas -- On May 30, Allison Parken had the rare and bizarre experience of receiving a letter informing her of her own untimely demise.
"It said 'To the estate of Allison Parken', dated May 24th, saying I died May the 12th and my insurance was going away," said Parken.
"But they did send her condolences," laughed Parken's husband John at their Euless home Monday.
"It’s funny but it’s also sad that a single mistake just snowballs and creates havoc in your life," said Parken.
That mistake is a mystery. Parken was somehow reported as deceased to Social Security, which quickly canceled her Medicare payments. Her former employer found out too.
"So the pension check didn’t go in," she said. "They canceled it."
Down two important sources of income, she says it took three visits to Grand Prairie’s Social Security Office to bring herself back to life.
"Eight hours at Social Security, and I can’t tell you how many hours on the telephone," she said.
But no call ever came from Social Security itself to confirm Parken’s death. That’s because whether the Administration verifies someone’s death depends on what agency reported it.
In a statement to WFAA, SSA spokeswoman Sarah Schultz-Lackey said erroneus death data may be due to a human typing error, either from an external source (like a hospital, bank or credit source) reporting the death or by an employee. She said that once someone notifies them of a mistake, they work quickly to repair it, but due to the many agencies involved it often takes some time.
One month after her alleged passing, Parken received her Social Security check and a tough lesson she wanted to share. That it can be harder to prove you’re living than dead.