Friday, May 15, 2009
Dead People Receive Stimulus Checks
Thousands of dead people are receiving Social Security stimulus checks. Of the 52 million checks sent out, 8,000 to 10,000 have been sent to dead people, some of whom were never even in the Social Security system. Most of the problem is due to the government not knowing that these people had died. This amounts to a figure in the millions of dollars, and makes the whole Social Security program suspect. News reports have indicated that while most people are not cashing the checks, and are trying to figure out what to do with them - most people are keeping them as souveniers - some people are cashing the checks. Because the checks are $250, cashing them would be a misdemeanor. Most states consider a misdemeanor as any theft below $500. So if you cash that check sent to your dead grandmother, you'll probably be OK. However, what should you do if you get two checks - say you get one for your dead grandmother and your dead uncle? A theft of $500 or over is normally considered a felony. A spokesman for the National Association of Trial Lawyers suggests that you cash one of the checks, and give the other check to another family member. "To be safe, put the money in an escrow account, and leave it in your estate for your heirs," he says. "That way, it will legally be inherited by your relatives." In addition to all the dead people, there are reports that pets are being sent stimulus checks. Since most pets don't live long enough to be eligible for Social Security benefits, the problem is minor. However, there are several reports indicating that turtles are being sent Social Security checks. Since a turtle's average life-span is over 140 years, most of them are still alive. Which technically would make them eligible to receive benefits. A spokesman for the ASPCA says that because they're not human, however, they are not legally entitled to the checks. Again, the smart thing to do would be to put the money in an escrow account.