Vietnam vet fights for missing Social Security check

July 26, 2011 7:24:22 PM PDT
For a lot of Americans the monthly Social Security check is a lifeline and the only significant means of support. That's certainly the case for a Vietnam veteran who fought for 14 months for payments he never received.

Michael Peters of Sunnyvale had been running into one dead end after another. He had nowhere else to turn. So he contacted 7 On Your Side.

Peters lives in a cramped studio apartment he gets rent-free from a friend. The Purple Heart recipient has a pulmonary condition and is hooked up to an oxygen machine. He applied for Social Security and received a notice awarding him benefits; he was supposed to start receiving checks of $561 beginning in March 2010.

"I contacted Social Security numerous times and each time I was told they would reissue the check and have it sent to me and I'd never get it," said Peters.

His benefit checks for subsequent months started coming the following month. But the March check continued to be a no-show

"I was caught in a circle and it was just basically nothing that could be done about it," he said.

Social Security tells 7 On Your Side it did reissue a check to Peters, but it came back as undeliverable. It could not explain why all his subsequent checks were able to get to him.

Fourteen months would pass, just one month short of his entire stint in the Vietnam War. That's when he contacted 7 On Your Side.

"I guess we found my limit," said Peters. "I don't know."

7 On Your Side contacted the Social Security Administration and he received a check within a week. It declined an on-camera interview, but "apologizes for any inconveniences Mr. Peters has experienced as a result in the delay of receiving his check."

It recommended Peters switch to direct deposit or direct express debit card to avoid future problems.

Peters is just happy he got his check.

"I guess it's just sort of a relief," said Peters, who feels getting his benefit check was about more than just getting the money. "It's no longer feeling helpless to resolve a problem."

By March 2013, all Social Security benefits must be received electronically, with just a few exceptions. For more information on direct deposit for Social Security and federal benefits, visit www.godirect.org.


Load Comments