Dear Annie: Reporting SS fraud
Dear Annie: I came to the United States back in the late 1980s. My husband at the time suddenly abandoned me and my two children. We entered a legal separation agreement in 1990 and eventually divorced in the early 2000s.
During this period, I supported myself and my two children without any child support or help from my ex-husband. I was not in a financial position at the time to hire a lawyer and fight for child support.
The reason I am writing this letter is because my ex-husband has been collecting Social Security from the United States under my name for the past year. I understand that this is legal to do. However, my ex-husband does not live in the United States and he’s using a false address of residence. He has only come to the United States in the past two years to file for Social Security, update his driver’s license and renew his passport.
My goal is to make this matter known. I am not looking for him to repay me any child support. My question, though, is how can we give someone Social Security without looking more in depth to his background? How is he proving that he’s a resident of the United States, for example? If someone is collecting Social Security through an ex-spouse, then why aren’t we checking to see if they paid all their child support? He’s currently lying to the federal office and benefiting on my behalf. — Used and Confused
Dear Used and Confused: You can report Social Security fraud through the Social Security Administration website (https://www.ssa.gov/) or by calling the SSA at 1-800-269-0271. It sounds as though your husband has disqualified himself from receiving benefits in many ways. Also note that anyone who owes $2,500 or more in child support is not eligible to receive a U.S. passport. Talk to a lawyer about procuring the back pay of child support as well as preventing your husband from fraudulently claiming your SS benefits.
Dear Annie: Recently, I attended the funeral of a lady at my church, whom I didn’t know very well; but when I read her obituary in the newspaper and found that she had sung in the choir in her younger days, I made a donation to the church’s choir fund. Afterwards I received a thank-you note from her daughter and her husband (who only signed the card from “Bob” and “Cindy,” even though I don’t know them), saying, “Thank you for the memorial gift”. It would have been much nicer if she had said something like, “Thank you for the memorial gift to the church’s choir fund in my mother’s memory.” The same kind of thing applies to bridal couples who send out thank-yous for wedding presents. I hope that you will share this advice with the rest of your readers. — Memorial Gift Forgotten
Dear Memorial Gift Forgotten: I’ve received and printed many letters about thank-you notes, and I thought I was done with the subject for a while. But I wanted to address this one, because it’s a special case. Yes, thank-yous for wedding gifts are a must, but memorial gifts are different. This is one situation in which it’s completely understandable for someone not to send a thank-you.
Memorial gifts are meant not only to commemorate the dead but also to comfort the grieving. If the bereaved forget to thank you for the comfort you’ve offered, or if they thank you in the “wrong” way, forgive them. Grief has a way of being distracting. Your gesture was kind. Don’t tarnish it with unmet expectations.