Her Death? Exaggerated!
â€œThey told me to get the records and to prove that my mother was alive,â€? the younger Sims laments. â€œShe hasnâ€™t received a check in three months and hasnâ€™t been able to pay rent,â€? adds the younger Sims, who also cares for her mother. The younger Sims is worried that the premature talk about her motherâ€™s death may actually result in her health declining.
A frightened-looking 92-year old woman named Mary Sims visited the offices of The Black Star News accompanied by her daughter, Beverly Sims, a 62-year-old spring chicken, on Monday.
The younger Sims first discovered her mother had a problem when she tried to withdraw money and found Zero balance. At first they thought some identity thief had stolen the moneyâ€”it was worse than that.
What was the cause of the womanâ€™s agitation? Someone had spread false rumors of the elder Simsâ€™s death. As a result the Social Security Administration suddenly stopped sending her monthly benefits after seven yearsâ€”her late husbandâ€™s pension.
The younger Sims says she has made several calls and visits, beginning on February 21, 2006, to the Social Security office at Parker Avenue in the Bronx and that officials kept giving her the run-around. â€œOh, it says here that she expired,â€? one clerk commented, referring to her mother, after a computer check. She noted that the person who made the data entry was on vacation and that Sims would have to wait two weeks until they returned. â€œI donâ€™t know of any business where something can be left on hold for two weeks,â€? Sims notes wryly. â€œThat made me very suspicious.â€?
Another official, Daniel Morris, told her that the checks had been cut off because a death certificate #423-819-03, had been issued showing that the elder Sims had died in 2003. â€œThey told me to get the records and to prove that my mother was alive,â€? the younger Sims laments. â€œWhy should I have to do this when he has the resources to do this? Itâ€™s his agency that made the error. My mother hasnâ€™t received a check in three months and hasnâ€™t been able to pay rent,â€? adds the younger Sims, who also cares for her mother. The younger Sims is worried that the premature talk about her motherâ€™s death may actually result in her health declining. Morris also informed Sims that he was going by data entered into the computer from the â€œfield office.â€?
She is also worried that there may be greedy schemers out there in the practice of issuing false death certificates in order to grab apartments from the elderly. When the younger Sims contacted the Bureau of Vital Statistic, she was informed that the bureau never issued death certificates beginning with a 423 numberâ€”4 covers Queens residents, not the Bronx, which is Simsâ€™s case. Yet, the bureau checked its own records and found that there was indeed a death certificate # 156-238-1903 issued for a Mary Sims, who also died in 2003. After cross checking birth dates, social security # and other information, it became clear that that Mary Sims was different from the one who is alive and needs her checks. â€œYou donâ€™t have to be a rocket scientist to know that there is something rotten in Denmark,â€? declares the younger Sims. â€œIâ€™ve never encountered this type of incompetence.â€?
The Black Star News offered the elder Sims a comfortable leather chair to sit on, shook her hands and concluded that she was very much alive. The Black Star News then called Morris at the Bronx office and invited him to speak with the elder Sims and perhaps issue an apology for presuming her demise. He declined the offer.
When The Black Star News managed to reach Morrisâ€™s supervisor, Andrea Wilder, she too declined our offer to speak with the elder Sims. Wilder referred us to the Manhattan office, then with a cheery â€œhave a nice day,â€? hung up on us.
Bernard Rosen, a spokesperson at the Manhattan office was more helpful. He apologized for the mix up after The Black Star News assured him the elder Sims was very much alive. Rosen inquired, might it be possible that the 92-year-old had acceptable forms of ID such as military records? No, we informed. A valid passport? No, we assured. A valid driverâ€™s license? No, we stated. Work I.D.? We confirmed that it appeared the elder Sims had not reported for a 9-to-5 in many years.
The Black Star News then faxed a copy of Simsâ€™s health insurance card to Rosen, and the younger Sims later faxed a letter from her motherâ€™s doctorâ€™s officeâ€”Rosen promised to sort out the matter and get back in touch. Separately, The Black Star called the Cityâ€™s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, where a spokesperson is now checking on the death certificates.
As of Tuesday, April 4, 2006, the younger Sims reports that her motherâ€™s account still has Zero dollars. She is worried about possible eviction from her Mitchell Lama apartments.
Stay tuned readersâ€”The Black Star News will post an update to this saga. Others with similar cases of premature death should contact this newspaper.
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