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Getting Off 'Master Death File' Isn't Easy

Minnesota senator steps into fray and has man declared not dead after 29 years on the list.

An error made 29 years ago that erroneously listed a person as dead, has been corrected but not without the help of a U.S. senator, according to CBS News in "Living man declared dead by IRS for 29 years resurrected by U.S. Senator."

The story begins nearly three decades ago, when a four-year-old boy was erroneously placed on the U.S. government's "Master Death File" list of the deceased. When government agencies learn of someone's death, they record the information in the file to make sure that any payments, such as Social Security, do not continue to be paid.

It is not a perfect system as Adam Ronning can attest to, because for 29 years, he was unsuccessful in getting the IRS to recognize that he was, in fact, alive. However, through the intervention of Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobucher, he has now legally been brought back to life.

Every year approximately 9,000 people are wrongly added to the master death file, which is a tiny percentage of people in a nation with over 300 million citizens. Most names erroneously placed on the list are the result of clerical errors, not any malicious intent.

However, despite the small numbers of people who are affected, it is still a big enough problem that more care should be taken to avoid these errors.

It is important to correct the list as soon as possible, if you are erroneously placed on the list because signing up for your retirement benefits may end up being a problem.

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