Wanda Witter lost her job back in 1999. She had been working as a machinist in New York, but decided to seek better job opportunities in the District of Columbia instead. She had prepared for a new life by getting her paralegal certificate, but as a woman in her sixties, it proved more difficult than she could imagine. Over 10 years later, she was still unable to find work.
She decided to draw on Social Security benefits to help her get her life back on track in 2006. She was in her seventies now, but when her checks started arriving with the wrong amounts, she tried to get someone – anyone – to listen. They wouldn’t, so she decided not to cash them.
For ten years, she kept every check and the paperwork that came with it in three suitcases. The checks ranged from $900 to $300 and varied each month. So, why did she choose to be homeless instead of cashing the checks and fighting it later?
If I just cashed them, who would believe me that they were wrong?” She said.
A decade later, someone finally listened. When everyone else has told her she was crazy, social worker Julie Turner combed through the documents and verified the woman’s claims.
She had all the paperwork there, neatly organized, in order. She was right all along. They did owe her all that money,” the social worker said.
Turner contacted an attorney who agreed that the woman was right and finally got everything straightened out with the Social Security office. They finally wrote her a check for the most that they could on such short notice. It was $999, but the money felt like a breath of fresh air.
Soon after, she received her first full payment of $1,464. Now, all that was left to do was wait for the actual amount that they owed her: a check for $99,999. The lawyer isn’t done, though. She believes that Wanda Witter is probably owed a lot more and won’t rest until the full amount is paid.
Wanda is no longer homeless and finally moved into a studio apartment on Capitol Hill.
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