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Stimulus for the Dead

 It’s only fair to expect the odd clerical error amid the frantic rush to infuse the economy with cash. But assuming that only living Americans will have their wallets fattened seems like a reasonable expectation.

WBALTV in Baltimore reports this morning that Rose Hagner, a Maryland woman who died on Memorial Day in 1967, received one of the one-time $250 stimulus checks intended for Social Security and SSI recipients.  (As we noted last week, working seniors who make over $75,000 will receive the check only to have the $250 deducted from their tax credit next spring.)

Representatives from the Social Security Administration told the station that, of 52 million checks that are out the door, around 10,000 have been sent to people who have passed away.  The representatives blame the hasty June check-mailing deadline for not allowing them to peruse their records with fine-toothed combs. If 43 years wasn’t long enough to get Rose off the rolls, certainly the three months since the passage of the stimulus bill wouldn’t be.

Rose Hagner’s check was plucked from the mailbox by her surprised son, who may have had his apparently scant faith in the Social Security mailing list eroded. James Hagner, 83, told WBALTV: "It shocked me and I laughed all at the same time. … I don't even expect to get one for myself, and I get one for my mother from 43 years ago?"

Since cashing someone else’s Social Security check is a federal offense, James Hagner is hoping just to frame his mother’s stimulus money and hang it on his wall.

richardbelldc

May 12, 2009, 10:22 p.m.

What is the point of running this story? This story belongs in the editor’s rainy-day bag of hoary cliches. But guys, you’re online now; you don’t have to run stories like this one to fill up the space between the ads. You know the other stories in the bag, like the horror of a Democratic candidate getting a direct mail solicitation from her Republican opponent…or a librarian marveling over someone returning a book that is 43 years overdue. I appreciate ProPublica’s efforts to ADD something to the journalistic discourse, but this tired old nag doesn’t do it.

This article is part of an ongoing investigation:
Eye on the Stimulus

Eye on the Stimulus

Officials have struggled to spend the nearly $800 billion stimulus package quickly and effectively.

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