Man Gets Death Notice, Loses Benefits

COLVILLE, Wash. — Cecil Gonzales’ world was turned upside down after getting a letter from the government. A letter that offered condolences for his death, but the bad news didn’t stop there.

“I know I’m me, I’ve been me for 53 years,” said Cecil.

He was born on August 16, 1955. He’s even got a birth certificate to prove it. But last month, just a week after his birthday, he went to check his mail.

“It says, ‘we’re sorry that someone in your household has died’,” he said.

Gonzales couldn’t believe what he was reading.

“It shocked me,” said Cecil, “I’m not dead. I’m right here. I’m alive, flesh and blood.”

The letter from the Washington Department of Social and Health Services didn’t stop there. It said, the household was no longer eligible for disability benefits, a major blow to Gonzales who suffers from Parkinson’s disease.

“The medical plus the food stamps, all that helps me get my life in order,” he said.

Since getting the letter on August 23rd, he’s been fighting to prove he is who he is. He’s been told the problem originated with the Social Security Administration.

“They think it might be an error in somebody punching in the wrong social security numbers,” said Cecil.

The mix up put a freeze on needed food and medications. And since he has direct deposit, he owes his bank overdraft charges after withdrawing despite the frozen funds.

“It’s kind of upsetting in a way,” he said.

Now all he wants is for life to go back to how it was before his 53rd birthday.

“Right now, I’d like to get my Social Security back, and my life, and my identity,’ he said.

Recently, the state reinstated Gonzales’ food and medical disability benefits, however, he’s still trying to clear things up with the Social Security Administration.