An 84-year-old Florida woman is asking for help after the federal government cut off her Social Security payments to seize the money to cover unpaid student loans for which she says she never applied.
Mamie Walker says she's near homelessness after the U.S. Department of Education garnished her Social Security checks, Yahoo reports. The grandmother says the $224,414.50 the organization claims she owes is not a debt she accrued. The Department of the Treasury issued Walker a notice last month informing her she would not receive her Social Security checks again until approximately 2031, a year that the 84-year-old fears she will not live to see.
“I’ll probably be dead then — going to bones,” Walker told WFLA.
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Walker, who says she stopped attending school in the fourth grade, has not been able to afford to pay her rent, utilities, grocery bills or buy her medicine since the government-issued payments stopped last month. Before the money began being garnished, Walker was receiving a monthly stipend of $1,498.
“I really don’t know how to get help, I’m so scared," Walker said. "I don’t sleep at night because I’m so scared next week … my lights are going to be off.”
The grandmother says she didn't approve the student loans, noting she never even learned how to read or write well and she spent her youth working as a field hand in rural Florida.
Walker's family has pitched to help her buy the goods she needs to live but has had no success resolving the issue with the government. They assume the debt is related to fraud or identity theft but haven't been able to prove it.
Morrison, Walker's son, says he's attempted to contact the Social Security Administration by phone but was met each time with hours of holding music. When he visited an office in person, he said he was confronted by a total lack of concern which resulted in no action.
In the meantime, the family has created a GoFundMe campaign to help Walker. So far, 54 people have donated $1,645.
Desperate, the family reached out to local journalist Shannon Behnken of WFLA on Facebook. The station's report on the situation gained the attention of two congresspeople, Reps. Kathy Castor (D-FL) and Gus Bilirakis (R-FL). Both have vowed to put an end to the mishap.
“It sounds like there’s some funny business here, and we’re going to get to the bottom of this,” said Castor. “Certainly, Ms. Walker shouldn’t be worried that someone is going to come after her. We’re going to set this straight.”
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