'Dead' woman cannot buy life-saving medication because insurance was cancelled

MAGNOLIA, Texas -- A Texas woman suddenly found out that she didn't have insurance or a bank account.

Sherry Ellis wasn't hacked. She was listed as deceased.

She said it was a mistake by the Social Security Administration, but undoing it has become a big problem.

It all started when the 73-year-old went to the pharmacy to pick up her prescription. That's when she learned she didn't have insurance anymore which she needed to pay for her life-saving medication.

When we asked her how many pills she takes a day, she dumped them out in her hand.

"I take this many. Plus, my vitamins I have to have," Ellis said.

There were nine-and-a-half pills, not including vitamins. Some are for her heart and others for her blood pressure, but the hardest pill to swallow is how much they cost without insurance. She says it's more than $850 a month.

Ellis had Medicare until she was declared dead.

"As far as they're concerned, I am deceased," she said.

She says the Social Security Administration made a mistake by associating her social security number with a death certificate.

Ellis said she paid the Social Security Administration a visit this week.

"'You all used my social security number on a deceased person on their death certificate,'" Ellis recalled. "And I said, 'I am not deceased.'"

That was Monday, Nov. 4. A week later and she is still not "alive" in the eyes of the Social Security Administration.

"Forty-five days I cannot handle because I have to have my medications," Ellis said.

On Thursday, she drove back up to the Social Security Administration office in Conroe, hoping for a quicker fix. They gave her a letter to share with her pharmacy. It said, "Our records incorrectly showed her as deceased. However, we have since found that she is alive."

But Ellis said the letter still didn't work.

"They said, 'I'm sorry, that letter is no good to us. It has to be in the system because that's your insurance in the system,'" Ellis said.

ABC13 in Houston, Texas, reached out to the Social Security Administration who is looking into it, and Ellis just hopes there's a fix soon.

As of Friday, she only had six of her heart medication pills left. That bottle without insurance costs $400.
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