DETROIT (WJBK) - A Detroit woman says a huge mistake has led to her Social Security benefits being cut off - now she's fighting for every penny while the government claims she was overpaid.
Doris Charbonneau, 90, says she received a letter from Social Security in September saying that she had been overpaid more than $50,000 in benefits. The letter also said if she doesn't repay in full, she'll lose her only source of income.
The letter arrived on September 17th, just days before her birthday. According to the letter, the woman was overpaid in benefits starting in June 1997 and until August 2016. To keep her benefits, she must pay the federal government $50,500.
Charbonneau and her daughter say the 90 year old woman received this letter from Social Security back on September 17th, only a few days before a birthday.
"I'm upset inside, yes I am. For them to come up say we want $50,000, people in hell want ice water, but they're not going to get it. I don't have it," Charbonneau said. "
Social Security is claiming that Charbonneau received an additional pension in her benefits by mistake, but she says the Government is answering their own question in this letter, because they are the ones who are wrong.
"They have never told me where the pension came from or who started it. I don't know where they come up with all of this information," Charbonneau said.
"I told them my mother never got any government pension and they said 'well, maybe her husband was a policeman'. I said 'No he worked at Frank's nursery with my mother'. Neither one of them got a pension," her daughter Carolyn Hart said.
When a financial advisor called Social Security to make a plea for help...
"She's 90, We live in Michigan and you want to cut off her benefits entirely, her only source of income, in the month of December in Michigan? And she said 'it doesn't matter if she's 9 or 90, her age has no bearing, its the law'," Gina McKague of McKague Financial said.
That's concerning to McKague who says the chances of Charbonneau winning are slim.
Charbonneau's benefits have already been reduced by 30 percent during this ordeal. She's living with her daughter, so it will fall on her if the matter isn't resolved. We tried calling social security, and waited more than 30 minutes on hold on, without getting a response. Despite that, Charbonneau says she's trying to behave.
"Well, I'm not tipping the table over, I'm just sitting here behaving, so far," Charbonneau said.
Charbonneau and her family will keep fighting to appeal this matter, but it doesn't appear she can take any legal action.