“How can they declare somebody dead without a death certificate?”

LODI (CBS13) — A Lodi woman is fighting to stay alive, because Social Security paperwork shows she’s dead.

While dealing with the loss of her 89-year-old husband, Leona Turner was faced with another hardship.

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“She said, ‘Well, we have you deceased,’” she said.

Turner learned she was declared dead after showing up to make a doctor’s appointment.

“I said, ‘I’m alive and well. Can I see my doctor?’” she said. “I could hear her on the phone saying, ‘Well, she’s standing right here, she’s alive.’”

Determined to find out what went wrong, Turner headed to the local Social Security office.

Weeks later, an office manager sent her a letter saying, “The above-mentioned person in error was listed as deceased, when in fact it was her husband.”

The letter offered an apology, but no explanation.

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“They apologized for the inconvenience, and everyone is very sorry, and that’s about as far as I get,” Turner said. “How can they declare somebody dead without a death certificate?”

The ripple effect of the mistake has been crippling.

“They tell your creditors. My American Express is closed. I can’t go to Costco and charge,” she said.

Turner says it’s even cost her money. She hasn’t received her Social Security payment from June—the month her nightmare began.

“It would be funny if it weren’t so horrendous,” she said.

The Social Security Administration didn’t provide comment.

Turner says they fixed the error, but never explained what happened. She hopes her story will prevent the mistake from happening again.

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In the meantime, she’s picking up the pieces from months of being mistakenly declared dead.