For over a decade, Wanda Witter lived on the streets of Washington D.C while waging a battle to prove that the Social Security Administration owed her more than $100,000. Before
becoming homeless and unemployed, she had worked as a machinist in New York. After losing that job, she obtained her certificate at a paralegal school and moved to the District of Columbia in search of work, but was unable to find any gainful employment.
Despite her challenges, Witter’s previous employment made her eligible for Social Security benefits. In 2006, when she finally applied for them, Witter noticed problems with her benefit checks. They ranged from between $300 to $900 a month, and outside of the inconsistencies she (correctly) calculated that the amounts were too small.
Instead of cashing the checks, Witter sent them back to the Social Security Administration. When later asked why she chose to return the checks considering her situation, she explained, “If I just cashed them, who would believe me that they were wrong?”
Eventually, after sending several checks back as “Void” and without a fixed address or bank account due to her homelessness, the checks stopped coming altogether.
Broke and jobless, Wanda Witter roamed the streets of our nation’s capital with three suitcases stuffed full of Social Security paperwork that proved that the government agency owed her more than $100,000. For years, she slept in homeless shelters and on the streets, calling Social Security’s toll-free number, sending letters, and visiting with several homeless assistance offices. Unfortunately, no matter where she turned, Witter was always dismissed as a crazy homeless person that needed a mental health counselor, and not an estate planning attorney.
Luckily, in late 2015 Witter met a social worker who took the time to review the neatly organized paperwork she had been carrying around for all those years. The social worker saw that her Social Security payments were indeed inaccurate, and connected Witter to an attorney at the AARP’s Legal Counsel for the Elderly.
That attorney came to the same conclusion as Witter’s social worker, and was able to help her receive regular benefits of $1,464 a month, as well as a check for $99,999 as payment for the amount she was previously owed. This is the largest amount that the Social Security Administration can cut to get her the money quickly, but her new attorney believes that once all the paperwork is done, even more back payments will be coming to Witter soon.
As an experienced estate planning attorney in Corona, I can tell you that the Social Security Administration has been over burdened with massive budget cuts and hiring freezes for the last few years, making professional help in solving cases like Witter’s extremely important. If you believe that there may be problems with your Social Security benefits, make sure you contact an attorney immediately to help you handle your case.
At OC Elder Law, our experienced estate planning attorneys are here to help you with all aspects of elder law, including wills and trusts, veteran’s benefits, and Medi-Cal planning. Allow us to navigate you and your family to peace of mind by contacting us to request a consultation today.