The U.S. government has cut off 84-year-old Mamie Walker’s Social Security payments, claiming she owes over $200,000 in student loans — despite the fact that the Florida woman never went to college and in fact only went to school through the fourth grade. The move by the government has pushed Walker to the brink homelessness.
“I really don’t know how to get help,” Walker told WFLA. “I’m so scared. I don’t sleep at night because I’m so scared next week… my lights are going to be off.”
Two months ago, the Tampa native received a letter in the mail from the U.S. Treasury Department, claiming it was referred to her for “collection action,” reports WFLA. The letter alleged Mamie racked up nearly one million dollars in student loans and owed the U.S Department of Education $224,414.50. She has not received any money from the government since.
And according to the most recent letter from the U.S. Treasury Department, Walker won’t receive another SSI check until September 2031 — 12 years from now.
“I’ll probably be dead then — going to bones,” she said.
She depends on the monthly $1,498 social stipend to pay for her food, medicine, rent and utilities. Even with her son, Morrison, chipping in to help pay the bills, Mamie said she’s at risk of losing everything.
“I work and I try my best to help her with her bills, but now this done happened and I have my own bills, and she don’t have no income and now they’re trying to put eviction on her house, her water bill skyrocketed, her lights are going to get cut off,” Morrison told WFLA.
The Walker family suspects someone stole Mamie’s identity to take out fraudulent loans under her name. According to reports from WFLA, the Florida woman never learned to read or write while working as a “field hand” to help support her family from a very young age.
Morrison attempted, multiple times, to call the Social Security Administration to clear up the mistake. Instead, he said he was put on hold for hours only to have no one pick up. He even went to a local Social Security office but said he received no help. At his wit’s end, Morrison turned to a well-known local investigative journalist for help.
Shannon Behnken, who hosts a segment on WFLA called Better Call Behnken, enlisted the help of two local members of Congress — Rep.Kathy Castor (D-Fl) and Gus Bilirakis (R-Fl) — following public outcry in response to Mamie’s story.
“It sounds like there’s some funny business here, and we’re going to get to the bottom of this,” Rep. Castor told Behnken on WFLA. “Certainly, Ms. Walker shouldn’t be worried that someone is going to come after her. We’re going to set this straight.”
In the meantime, the Walkers were told to apply for emergency funding until those assisting can figure out the issue. They have also since set up a GoFundMe campaign detailing Mamie’s situation and asking for financial help.
“My name is Mamie Long Walker, and I am 84 years old,” the GoFundMe page reads. “I have had my last two checks garnished. Therefore, I am having to live with my children and depend on them for everything. I have went to our congressman, he is diligently working on this situation. Any help is needed!”
The campaign, started on March 15, has a goal of $3,000 and has since raised nearly $500.
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