SSA Wrongly Declares Young Man with Autism Dead, Demands Mom Pay Back $146,000

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22 years ago, Clemmie St. Amand gave birth to twin baby boys in September of 1996. Each weighed little more than a pound and struggled with health issues. Since it was unlikely that both would live, St. Amand gave both boys almost exactly the same name.

Baby Reginald Ratcliff III died shortly after his birth, but Reginald Ratcliff II survived and was later diagnosed with autism. Since then, his mom has been doing everything she can to provide the best possible life for her son.

St. Amand has been getting social security benefits for Reggie throughout his life and has had no problems collecting the money up until recently, when she received a letter from the Social Security Administration claiming that her son was dead and demanding that she set up a payment plan to pay back all of the money she’d received over the course of his lifetime—a whopping total of $146,000.

Although St. Amand was confused about why this issue hadn’t surfaced until now, she was determined to make it right. She’d been informed in the letter that she could come into her local Social Security Office to dispute the issue and receive a copy of the documents that were used to make the decision to cut off her son’s benefits, so she went in to do just that.

But even after bringing in several forms of ID for her son and even taking Reggie himself into the office, staff refused to believe that Reggie was alive and deserving of the benefits he’d been receiving. She even had a birth certificate that was issued several weeks after Reggie’s supposed death, but it didn’t seem to make any difference.

Reggie’s benefits provide him with health care and support services that are crucial to his well-being. For his entire life, St. Amand has been working hard to help her son get access to every opportunity and resource he can. Now she is fighting for her son’s continued rights to these vital services at the same time she fights not to have to pay back the substantial amount of money the SSA claims she owes.

Watch the video below to learn more.

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Someone from the Social Security Administration is supposed to be reaching out to the family to straighten out the issue soon.

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Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?
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