Selma Cohen, an 87-year-old Brooklyn woman, claims she was notified earlier this month that her Medicaid medical benefits had been cut because the state considered her dead.
That sure was news to the octogenarian, who is very much alive and now tangled in a bureaucratic hell to get her benefits back after what appears to be a paperwork snafu, the New York Daily News reported.
Cohen told the Daily News she recently received a letter from the city's Bureau of Fraud Investigation on Sept. 19 telling her that her Medicaid benefits has ended because, well, the cancer survivor was no longer among the living.
"I couldn't believe it," Cohen, a widow, told the newspaper. "At first I thought it was a joke or something."
Cohen said she then got passed from one government office to another, with the Bureau of Fraud Investigation telling her to go to the Medicaid office in Brooklyn.
"A clerk there said, 'It's a computer error,'" she said, adding that the fix could take several weeks. "Do I have to pay because somebody put some wrong numbers into a computer?"
Cohen told WCBS-TV that the clerk told her
she could go to a third office, Social Security, and apply for a state ID to prove she is actually alive.
The glitch reportedly interfered with other public benefits as well.
"And I get food stamps, so I didn't go food shopping the last few days," Cohen said, adding that she requires 14 different daily medications that Medicaid provides. "I don't know if they stopped already my food stamps. They're not going to give me food stamps if I'm dead."
U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, though, appears to have stepped in to help Cohen get her medical benefits restored — along with her living status.
"We're grateful to the news team for highlighting this case so we can make sure Ms. Cohen receives the services she needs," Gillibrand's office said in a statement Monday. The television station reported that Cohen's Medicaid benefits were "back online."
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