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Business - September 2, 2017

Dead woman gets pension for almost 20 years

A dead woman’s bank account received a pension deposit for almost 20 years because city officials didn’t learn of her passing until June 2016.

USAtoday reported that, the woman, who was not identified in a July 1, 2015-June 30, 2016, audit received spousal benefits starting in June 1974. She died in November 1997 but Wilmington officials didn’t know she had died and continued to automatically deposit about $150 into her account every other week.

In almost two decades past her death, the amount totaled $72,966.60.

If she had begun receiving benefits when she was age 65, she would have been 88 in 1997 when she died but 107 years old in 2016.

The city relied on Comserv, a vendor now out of business, that semi-annually cross-checked employee and pensioner information with death records and Social Security data, City Treasurer Velda Jones-Potter said. This woman’s passing did not come up in those searches because it was not documented in Social Security records.

“In this case, it’s apparent that her death was not reported until many years after it occurred,” she said. A new vendor allows the city treasurer’s office to review Social Security information monthly.

“They usually have some way of knowing. But they never got returned mail for this person. There was no indication that the person was dead.”

Tamara Thompson, Wilmington, Del., City Auditor’s Office

The treasurer’s office checks the newspaper regularly for death notices, Acting City Auditor Tamara Thompson said. Oftentimes, families call the city about a death, or city employees hear about former colleagues passing away by word of mouth. (USAtoday)

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