Society

Homeless Woman Owed $100,000 In Social Security (Photos)

| by Jonathan Constante
Photo of Wanda Witter.Photo of Wanda Witter.

An elderly Washington, D.C. woman spent a decade trying to convince people that the government owed her $100,000 in benefits. A social worker confirmed that she was right.

Wanda Witter, an 80-year-old divorced mother of 4, used to work as a machinist, Rare reported. She was recently homeless and carried around suitcases filled with documents that she claimed proved the government owed her $100,000 in Social Security money.

Witter walked the streets of Washington, D.C., for more than 10 years, telling people there was an error in her Social Security payouts. No one believed her.

“They kept thinking I was crazy, telling me to get rid of the suitcases,” Witter told The Washington Post. “I knew, when I committed to homelessness, I had to be very careful about what I did. ‘Don’t do anything stupid,’ I told myself. Because they’ll think I’m a mental case.”

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Julie Turner, a social worker at Downtown Cluster of Congregations, took the time to listen to Witter’s story in May. She reviewed her documents and came to a shocking conclusion.

“She had all the paperwork there, neatly organized, in order. She was right all along,” Turner, 56, told The Washington Post. “They did owe her all that money.”

“She needed economic help, not mental help,” Turner added. “That’s part of the problem with homelessness in D.C. So many cases are written off as being about mental illness. A lot of times, homelessness really is simply about economics.”

Witter’s suspicions began in 2006. She started receiving varying check amounts that would range from $300 to $900.

Witter said she tried getting answers from the agency, but no one could help her. Instead of cashing out the checks, she wrote “Void” on them and mailed them back.

“If I just cashed them, who would believe me that they were wrong?” Witter explained.

Lawyers told Witter she was going to get whatever money she was owed.

But Witter said: “I’ll believe it when I see it. You never know that the next check will come. I don’t believe it.”

Witter got a lawyer who specializes in Social Security disputes. She won her case and believes she will be receiving $99,999, and possibly more.

After being assaulted in August, Witter now has a studio apartment, and just got her first full payment of $1,464.

Sources: Rare, The Washington Post / Photo Credit: Linda Davidson/The Washington Post
 

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