Erringly declared dead: Selma Cohen Medical Benefits

Published: September 29, 2015

Erringly declared dead: Selma Cohen Medical Benefits, Selma has been deemed deceased by a clerical error in the Medicaid office and cannot receive her check to pay for rent or go to the doctor.
Bureaucracy can be a real killer.

An 87-year-old Brooklyn woman found that out when she got a letter from the city’s Bureau of Fraud Investigation saying her Medicaid has been cut off – because she is dead.

“I couldn’t believe it,” said Selma Cohen, 87, a widowed cancer survivor who lives in Midwood.

At first I thought it was a joke or something.”

When she called the Bureau of Fraud Investigation after receiving the shocking Sept. 19 letter she was advised to visit the Medicaid office in Downtown Brooklyn, she said.

“A clerk there said, ‘It’s a computer error,'” Cohen said, adding that she was told the issue could take several weeks to resolve.

“Do I have to pay because somebody put some wrong numbers into a computer?”

She said that earlier correspondence from Medicaid indicated she was approved for medical coverage through at least Dec. 31.

Cohen relies on Medicaid benefits to pay for her doctor visits and prescriptions. She has had two major surgeries – for anal and thyroid cancer – over the last 15 years.

She had to cancel a recent appointment after her doctor confirmed her Medicaid coverage had been terminated, she says.

“At first I thought it was a joke or something. I have no idea what could have caused this,” said Selma Cohen.
She now worries her Social Security benefits could be shut off too.

“It’s all in the computers and they’re not going to send something to somebody that’s dead,” she fretted.

“It makes me extremely frustrated.”

A rep for City Hall said Saturday night that officials are reviewing Selma’s case. “And if there is an error we will take steps to correct,” a spokeswoman wrote in an email.

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