Social Security Administration Issues Checks To Hurricane Evacuees

Thousands of Hurricane Katrina evacuees who receive social security assistance did not get checks this month. That's because the hurricane hit just a few days before the money was mailed. The Social Security Administration in Tyler is trying to help those displaced by the hurricane by issuing those checks, on the spot.

"We don't have anything. I don't have any belongings, any ID, any nothing. I don't have no money, no nothing. That's the only money I would have," says hurricane evacuee, Tanye George. The 33-year-old is one of dozens of hurricane victims who've come here to the Social Security Administration to claim their social security benefits.

The office is trying to get hurricane victims their checks as fast as possible. "There's really no wait at all," says Leo Rossler, the district manager at the Tyler Social Security Administration. Although many hurricane evacuees have no identification, Rossler says that will not pose a problem for them to get their money. "We need some type of identity if they have it. If not, we have other means to use."

George says her next step is getting a copy of her social security card. "I need one. It's something we have to have, because how long are they going to accept us being around with nothing?" she asks. But officials say hurricane evacuees should wait to get a permanent residence before requesting their social security card. Rossler says, "Right now we're suggesting people wait until they have a permanent address, mainly for their security. We don't want to mail their cards, where they can't get their cards."

Officials say it takes about two weeks to get social security cards issued. So far, the social security office in Tyler says it's distributed more than 300 checks.

Oralia Ortega, Reporting.