UPDATE: Lawmakers working to help veteran mistakenly declared dead

Social Security Administration mistakenly declares ceteran dead

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Days after we first told you about a local man mistakenly declared dead by the government, the government is now working to help him.

"In a week's time my health has declined bad enough to where if I were to leave the hospital today, I would be dead in a week," Kyle Nuss, who was declared dead, said.

Last week, 28-year-old Kyle Nuss told us having to deal with government red tape is taking a toll on his health.

In late May, the disabled Army veteran was declared dead by the Social Security Administration after his father with almost the same name died earlier in the month.

On top of this, Kyle is dealing with cystic fibrosis. He's been in the hospital for over a week now.

He's fighting to get his life back.

The situation is also taking a toll on him financially. He doesn't have access to any of his credit cards and technically doesn't have health insurance because he doesn't exist, at least on paper, according to the Social Security Administration.

A GoFundMe page was set up to help Nuss with his medical expenses. Find it here: https://www.gofundme.com/savingprivatekyle.

A couple of days after we aired his story, a Social Security spokesperson said, "We will reach out to Mr. Nuss and provide any necessary assistance." Kyle did get a phone call from Social Security apologizing for the mistake. We sat down with Kyle and his attorney again Wednesday.

"The lady who called me is actually one of the head supervisors in Atlanta and she actually came to Birmingham to look into everything to see what caused this; who overlooked it," Nuss said.

Our reporting now has the attention of Senator Doug Jones and Congressman Gary Palmer. Both offices tell us they are trying to help.

"I appreciate someone calling and saying they are sorry, but the best way to say they are sorry is to fix the problem and fix it swiftly," said Nuss' attorney Chris Reid.

What happened to Kyle actually happens more often than you would think. A Social Security Office of Inspector General's audit between 2007 and 2010 found 36,000 people were killed off by mistake. Of the millions of legitimate death reports Social Security receives each year, the agency claims less than one-third of one percent are corrected. Social Security credits more accurate electronic reporting for the drop in false death reports.

The SSA declined an interview, but sent us this statement:

Approximately 2.8 million deaths are reported to the Social Security Administration each year and our records are highly accurate. Of these millions of death reports we receive each year, less than one-third of 1 percent are subsequently corrected. Deaths are reported to Social Security primarily from the States, but also from family members, funeral homes, and financial institutions. If a person suspects that they have been incorrectly listed as deceased on their Social Security record, they should visit their local Social Security office as soon as possible. They can locate their nearest Social Security office at https://www.ssa.gov/agency/contact/. They should take at least one piece of current (not expired) original form of identification with them. We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused.

Once a death is reported, the person's name goes in the "Death Master File" database and we're told it can take a while to get off that list if you are living.

For Kyle's sake, he's hoping that doesn't happen.

"Stuff like this shouldn't happen. If I have to be the example in order to get new legislation passed. If I have to be the one that has to suffer to go through it, will gladly do that," Kyle said.

In the meantime, Kyle's health continues to go downhill. He has about 18% lung function right now with breathing treatments every few hours.

His attorney is hoping to have this resolved by the end of the week. Reid says he's considering reaching out to President Trump to add some pressure to get the SSA to do something.

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