263. Feds Threaten WWII Vet

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“They’re going to kick me out of my home,” said Karl Berger, 86 years old. Karl a widower with no living children. When Karl’s died a couple of years ago, he told Social Security Administration to stop sending monthly checks his wife. But the agency continued to send checks. Karl called again; a clerk said not worry. He told Karl to mail a followup that included his wife's date of death. But checks continued to come. Karl needed the money, he cashed his wife’s checks.

When SSA finally its mistake, it sent Karl a letter saying he owed SSA $5,900 plus interest. Karl receives $12,000 a year, which is slightly above poverty . The only savings that he ever had--$5,000--was spent his wife’s funeral. He fought on Iwo Jima, of one of the most furious battles of War II. The battle left him deaf in ear and almost blind in one eye.

His house used to be in a good neighborhood. takes the bus once a week to visit wife's grave. The rest of his time is at home, where he carves wooden military figures he donates to a local charity. The charity the carvings and uses the money to help the homeless.

SSA gave Karl six months to the debt in full. Otherwise, the SSA letter , the agency would seize his home. Karl wrote , asking if it would be okay to pay a month. That was all he could afford.

’s insufficient,” said William Shatner, an SSA agent. “We that he is a war veteran, but that ’t entitle him to free money. He knew that wife was dead, yet he cashed her monthly . That is fraud, pure and simple.”