When Madeline Coburn landed an internship of a lifetime in Ghana, she quickly applied for student loans to help her finance the trip. To her surprise, the student loan company sent her a letter denying her application for a student loan citing that she is deceased according to their records. Coburn frantically went to her school, Webster University, and talked to someone in the financial aid administration. “How could this be? I’m standing right here — you can see me,” she said.
Over a course of three months, Coburn traveled to 16 state and federal agencies with the goal to prove her vitality, but no one could help. She’s on disability benefits due to heart disease, but her disability payments stopped coming when the government listed her as deceased. She is unable to purchase healthcare insurance nor her medication. She can’t open a bank account, nor can she acquire a job because companies refuse to hire her once they discover she’s deceased. Although she was able to prove to Social Security that she’s alive, she’s still dead elsewhere. “My life is still a nightmare three years later, after correcting errors with the Social Security Administration,” she said.