EAST QUOGUE, N.Y. (CBS 2/WCBS 880) — She was declared dead – but she’s as alive as you and I.

Carol Combes is the official historian for the village of East Quogue, Long Island. She cares for headstones and writes local obituaries.

In June, she was aghast to learn that she was dead. In fact, she had been declared dead for more than a month.

“I’m on the computer and am in the Social Security death index, and I’m scanning down and all of the sudden, whoa!” she said. “There’s my name, Carol Combes, where I was born, when I died.”

Combes was quickly cut off from bank accounts, medicare and more.

Ancestry Web sites even publicly listed her presumably ‘dearly departed’ Social Security number – that was still active. 

“Every account I had was frozen, no matter where it was at,” she said. “I was left with just pocket change.”

 Since then she and her husband Rich have collected hundreds of documents, made endless trips to social security officers, and spent hours on the phone with government workers who finally solved the riddle.

 They traced the error to a clerk in Alabama typing  in the wrong nine digit number.

A spokesman for Social Security says Combes’ record has been corrected. They’ve since apologized, but Combes thinks it’s something that could’ve easily been avoided.

 “To the Social Security Administration, you’re nothing but a number,” Combes said. “And when that number goes in, they should research it a little better.”

Even so, and despite being stuck swimming upstream against the government, Combes, along with family and friends, are finding humor in it all.

“I’m glad you’re alive,” said Richard Combes to his wife. “I’m glad I didn’t miss your funeral.”

 Carol also gets a good laugh out of it. 

“They say to me, ‘you look pretty good for dead’,” she said.

 The Social Security Administration tells CBS 2 that they will continue to monitor Carol’s situation because the IRS, VA Hospital and banks may be slow in getting the correction.

 Some of Carol’s assets remain frozen.

Comments (151)
  1. dragonfly says:

    A friend has also recently been declared deceased by Social Security because her care giver, her uncle recently died. My friend has no voice, she is totally disabled and is being cared for by friends. She needs life saving medical treatment and constant care and ongoing treatments. She has not had any funding for 3 months, and now no medical coverage. Social Security has simply said no, they will do nothing.
    How can this be happening? Why is it so difficult to reverse? What will happen to our friend? Will Social Security let her die?

  2. toneyal says:

    Look at:


    Be sure to look at the Archives

    Is this what the Left is planning?

    Is this what some of the Democratic supporters are
    planning? Are some of these supporters
    putting in a powder they call “Jock Strap”?

    Is their budget about $100,000 to allow sending
    75,000 Puffies to Republicans, their offices, and the
    homes of their supporters?


  3. pbrfanlady says:

    If memory serves me correctly, the Dems gained control of Congress in 2006,
    so why is BUsh 100% to blame????? AND Fannie and Freddie are Dems Gems
    so who caused the financial drop???????? Bush???/ EH???? THOSE FACTS ARE CONVENIENTLY FORGOTTEN!!!

  4. Seems funny when you read the headline but when you see the effects of such an error you realise it is not a great joke.

  5. defendyourrightsamerica says:

    Luckily, they didn’t decide to solve the problem by killing poor Carol. Seems that is the more “administrative” approach.

  6. Save the USA says:

    I’ll take Conservative Republicans over the bunch of amoral Marxists who currently control the Democratic Party. The Dems are intentionally destroying our nation’s private sector, pushing millions of Americans into unemployment, and driving our country into unrecoverable levels of debt. Yes, those Dems are real bright — setting us up with $1 trillion annual deficits for the next 10+ years; and leaving their “compassionate” Ponzi schemes (Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid) unfunded to the tune of $120 Trillion.

    And that’s just at the national level. Look at most State level or City level governments that have been run by Democrats — they are all bankrupt, corrupt, racially divided and decadent. And not only that, the Democrats have managed to bankrupt our nations wealthiest states, such as NY and California. Ridiculous!

    Or consider the International application of the Democrats Leftist/Socialist policies? Most of the countries in Europe are currently going bankrupt due to socialist welfare states — their wealth having been looted by the government crooks, and their poor and elderly being left to “do their duty” of dying early.

    Which brings us back to the Democrats plans for America. You see the Dems might not have to admit to having “spent” the $120 Trillion we are supposed to have in the kitty, if only those stubborn old folks would die before they become eligible for benefits. Hey, let’s put the Dems in charge of Healthcare! Now they can compliment their murder of new Human Life with the euthanasia of the elderly. In fact, those are the “savings” that Obama is always talking about coming from Government Health Care.

  7. savage24 says:

    After the government takes over the healthcare of the country, there is going to be a lot more of us dead and not just on paper. As they say “the best is yet to come”.

  8. hoodoojuju says:

    Since most of the comments have been from contentious right wingers, I feel bound to point out a few facts.

    1. No serious person advocates pure capitalism. The markets are completely amoral. So, we are just arguing over how much regulation and which kinds.

    2. The military is in fact a massive government program with a giant bureaucracy.

    3. Healthcare costs are frequently more of a problem for small businesses than taxes. Having healthcare tied to jobs hurts entrepreneurs.

  9. Nitin Jain says:

    Its a true point to ponder

  10. Mike M. says:

    Why is it soooo difficult for a bank to over-ride the error? People at my bank know me on sight and I’d like to think that they’d un-freeze my account the minute they saw me walking through the door. I think she should sue the feds for this, they have no excuse. They want all this unconstitutional power over us but then take ZERO responsibility when they screw up.

  11. Debbie says:

    I learned a few years ago when I first applied to get a cell phone that I had died in 1979–a year before I married and later had 3 children! Recently it popped up again with some legal paperwork, and a clever Social Security worker analyzed how it happeded. My parents were getting Social Security money when I was in my early 20’s and still in college. At some point the law changed and young people in my situation could no longer get the $. Apparently someone at the Social Security Administration came up with the bright idea of just temporarily “killing” the young people on the computer so they would no longer get the benefits. In my case, I guess they just forgot to resurrect me!

  12. Big Bear says:

    Anyone watch yesterday’s embarrassing speech by Obama, touting job creation in the midst of the same 9.5% unemployment we’ve had for a year? It looked like he didn’t even believe himself. Even CNN mercifully pulled the plug on him after about a minute of inanities.

  13. KeithP says:

    terrible to know that once your considered dead by the Federal YoYo’s you lose all facits of your life to the idiots who push the keyboards, truly scary stuff. but on the other hand if your illegal you can get wellfare and social benefits, what does that say about “hope and change” and to think the Federal YoYo’s want to run your health care. If Lincoln were still alive I think he would fire the treasonist bastords in Congress and most all federal workers for being inept to the point of stupidity.

  14. jack carlson says:

    If this was a Democratic district, I’ll bet she could still vote.

  15. Bob Fairlane says:

    I bet 10 mexicans are already using he SS #.

  16. vette66 says:

    Another way to save money is to limit the welfare adults, those over 21, to minimum wages for a 40 hour week, no house allowance, not food allowane, not phone or cable unless they pay for it from there welfare check. It is about time these lazy bast ards start to learn to live like the rest of the people on minimum wage.

  17. when you read about stories like this you really know you live in the digital age.

  18. gcgranny says:

    Government can do it all? Like the healthcare Obamination? Can anyone tell me why they had to create such a monstrosity to “help” the supposedly original 30 million without adequate healthcare (which was roughly 10% of our population) by messing with the other 90% who had adequate healthcare? What kind of logic is that except to control all of us? They are not up to the task as can be seen in other government run entities.

  19. rich says:

    2 indisputable FACTS:
    1. Unemployment was at 4.9% in November 2006.
    2. 2006 spending was about 468 Billion.
    (the Democrats took over both houses in Jan 2007) Look where we are now!
    Unemployment at 9.5%%
    So far this year we have spent 1.7 TRILLION.
    Do you miss George Bush yet? I sure do.
    Also remember how obama stood in front of the cameras and said that if we didn’t give him 876 Billion to spend right now, that unemployment could get as high as 8%? He got his way and unemployment is at 9.5% and getting worse every day…That’s a fact, Jack. No mater how you libs try to fudge the numbers, they don’t have any basis in facts.
    YA, I DO MISS BUSH! 4.9 % unemployment and budget for year of les than 1/3 of Obama’s budget.

  20. Rick Z says:

    This is your government.

    We have automated all data flow.

    Computers process it all flawlessly.

    Nothing can go wrong.

    Nothing can go wrong.

    Nothing can go wrong.

    Nothing can go wrong.

    Nothing can go wrong.

    Nothing can go wrong.

    Nothing can go wrong.

    Nothing can go wrong.

    Nothing can go wrong.

    Nothing can go wrong.

    Nothing can go wrong.

    Nothing can go wrong.

    Gothin nac og grown.

    Wnoth ognac gointh.

  21. J Allen says:

    So, there is life after death!

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