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263. Feds Threaten WWII Vet
“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.
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
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.”