East Texas woman erroneously declared dead

Published: Dec. 4, 2015 at 11:28 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 7, 2015 at 11:31 PM CST
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Barbara Kleinschmidt was declared dead by Social Security last Friday. (Source: KLTV staff)
Barbara Kleinschmidt was declared dead by Social Security last Friday. (Source: KLTV staff)
Kaylen Burgess, BBB. (Source: KLTV staff)
Kaylen Burgess, BBB. (Source: KLTV staff)

DOGWOOD CITY, TX (KLTV) - An East Texas woman is trying to become alive again after a recording error with the social security office declared her officially dead.

A very much alive Barbara Kleinschmidt says this vital mix-up has her locked out of her own life. Kleinschmidt says according to the Social Security Administration, she died last week on Black Friday.

She first discovered her new status when she had trouble making an online purchase.

"The credit department says 'I'm sorry it won't go through because you're deceased'," Kleinschmidt says. "And I said, 'you're talking to me, I'm not deceased.'"

Then one by one she received letters and calls that her credit cards and bank accounts were closed.

"It's scary because if I can't get money...we need milk, eggs, and bread; we need gas to go somewhere, I can't do it," says Kleinschmidt. "There's no Christmas from me to anybody."

Sarah Schultz-Lackey, regional communication director for the Social Security Administration (SSA) says once a social security number is placed on the Death Master List, notifications go out to banks and credit companies.

"Erroneous death data may be due to a human typing error, either from an external source (hospital, bank, credit source, etc.) reporting the death to Social Security or by an employee," Schultz-Lackey says. "It is unfortunate and we correct it as soon as possible."

Seven days have passed since Kleinschmidt "died" and she says she has been calling SSA all week. Schultz-Lackey told KLTV she cannot comment on Kleinschmidt's specific case. A Tyler SSA representative told Kleinschmidt that the issue is being worked on.

Kayla Burgess, Community Outreach Specialist for the Better Business Bureau in Tyler says this kind of identity problem is the first she has seen.

"It's possible that the person had their identity stolen and the person that had stolen their identity actually passed away, so there's a number of different things that could have happened in the circumstance."

Kleinschmidt tried checking her credit report, but because the social security number is flagged as deceased, she is blocked from pulling her own credit.

"I feel like I'm going to be dead my whole life," Kleinschmidt says with a laugh. "I'm locked out of my whole life...I can [only] get into Facebook."

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