HUDSONVILLE, Mich.— Social Security is what many depend on to enjoy retirement. One woman contacted the FOX 17 Problem Solvers when her own account was in jeopardy because of a clerical error. An error, she claims, did not happen because of anything she did to deserve it.
Pamela Nederveld said this comes down to a caseworker entering information incorrectly into their computer system. Department of Health and Human Services told FOX 17 News they weren’t even sure they keep records of when their caseworkers enter information incorrectly.
Nederveld had to stop working at 62 years old after she was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, which is widespread pain accompanied by feeling tired all the time, even memory and mood issues.
“I’d like to work full time. I really would like to be able to get out there and do more than what I can do. I am very limited on what I can do, and it’s just lots of tiredness and a lot of pain, so I do what I can,” said Nederveld.
At 68, it’s no secret Pam depends heavily on the medical assistance she qualifies for from the state, but that help stopped coming in January.
“I received a letter that I was no longer eligible for the Medicare savings program,” said Nederveld.
Instead, the money for her premium for the Medicare savings program was taken from her Social Security account. She says it's money she needed to survive on a month to month basis.
“It’s how you survive every day, and when they take that money, it hurts. You have to figure out how am I going to do this for the next time, or the next month. Is it going to happen next month?”
Pam gets a little over $600 a month from her Social Security, more than $100 of that is going toward her medical care premium that the state was supposed to help her with. That leaves her with almost no money to spend after she paid rent for her mobile home lot.
“I filled out the paperwork properly and had sent it in on time, and he put it in the system wrong,” said Nederveld.
Pam was told by the state her caseworker entered the data in their system wrong, so for six months they were taking $122 from her no matter how many times she called her caseworker.
“I felt like I was just getting the run around like my story wasn’t good enough or I didn’t matter to them.”
Nederveld finally got her June payment reimbursed, but has received no notice if she will be reimbursed for the other 5 months. We contacted DHHS to find out how often this is happening, where case workers are entering data carelessly, and if the state is responsible for paying people back after it comes out of their Social Security.
They sent us a response that said they had no exact number on how many times this happened, and if they even keep record of it. DHHS told FOX 17 that human error does occur. As for reimbursements they can only reimburse people if they are permitted by federal and state requirements, leaving Nederveld hanging in the balance.
“I don’t know if they have too much of a case load or not enough workers. It just needs to be straightened out,” she said.
DHHS said they cannot speak to specific client information due to privacy laws. As of Wednesday Nederveld had not received a called from DHHS about her inquires about the past months.