Selma Cohen Mistakenly Declared Dead, Medical Benefits Stopped

Selma Cohen Mistakenly Declared Dead, Medical Benefits Stopped

Selma Cohen has had her medical benefits discontinued after she was mistakenly declared dead by the Medicaid office.

According to CBS New York, the 87-year-old Brooklyn woman received a disturbing letter from the New York Bureau of Fraud Investigation on September 19 saying her Medicaid benefits had been stopped because their records indicated that she was deceased. Cohen said she was shocked when she read the letter, and thought it was a “joke or something.”

“I said it must be wrong,” Cohen said. “You know, maybe it’s a joke or something.”

Selma immediately contacted the Medicaid office to find out what was going on. It was then that they informed her that someone had made a computer error, something they said was easy to do, but not easy to fix.

“A clerk there said, ‘It’s a computer error,'” Cohen said, adding that the clerk said it could take several weeks for the situation to be resolved.

Cohen said she went to the Medicaid office in Crown Heights, Brooklyn where one of the clerks informed her that there was nothing they could do to help her. They informed Selma that she would have to go to the Social Security office to apply for a state ID to prove that she was in fact alive. Cohen said she had previously spoken to the Medicaid office and was told she was approved for medical benefits through at least December 31.

“Do I have to pay because somebody put some wrong numbers into a computer?” she said.

Selma Cohen said the suspension of her medical benefits caused her many issues with her doctors appointments and getting her medications. Selma, a thyroid cancer survivor and widow, takes 14 medications on a daily basis, and already had to cancel one of her appointments.

“How am I going to survive?” Cohen asked WABC. “If I can’t get medicine, I don’t know what I’ll have to do. It makes me extremely frustrated.”

Cohen said she was also concerned that she would lose her Social Security benefits, and would have no income coming in to her home. If this happened, she wouldn’t have money to pay for her medications or her doctors appointments. Cohen also feared that she would lose her food stamps and wouldn’t be able to afford food.

Selma Cohen Mistakenly Declared Dead, Medical Benefits Stopped
Close up of the letter Selma Cohen received

“If they have down that the lady is deceased, I doubt if they’re going to send me a check,” Cohen said. “When you’re dead, they don’t send you checks.”

“So I probably won’t get my check this week. And I get food stamps, so I didn’t go food shopping the last few days. I don’t know if they stopped already my food stamps,” Cohen added. “They’re not going to give me food stamps if I’m dead.”

Selma Cohen Mistakenly Declared Dead, Medical Benefits Stopped
Close up of the letter Selma Cohen received

The process could have taken weeks to clear up, but Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s office made sure it was taken care of in a timely manner. Her Medicaid benefits have finally been reinstated, and she has been reimbursed financially for the days she was mistakenly considered dead.

What do you think about the Medicaid office mistakenly declaring Selma Cohen dead and cancelling her medical benefits due to a computer error? Should she receive any further compensation for their mistake? Leave your comments below.

[Photos via video screenshots]

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