Woman Declared Dead 20 Years Ago Fights to Prove She’s Alive

A woman in Missouri has spent the last 17 years trying to convince the government that she is alive.

According to NBC affiliate KSDK-TV, Madeline-Michelle Carthen was wrongfully declared dead in 2007, something Carthen calls “like a haunting” or “nightmare of corruption.”

Carthen realized the error while attending Webster University 17 years ago, when she was denied financial aid when her Social Security number erroneously noted her as deceased.

Unbeknownst to her at the time, her name had been added to the Death Master File, an internal government database that collects records of dead people with Social Security numbers.

Carthen was subsequently unable to graduate college.

According to People, over the decades Carthen has reached out to four different U.S. presidents for help, but only received a response from former president Donald Trump.

In 2021, Carthen was able to change her name and she received a new Social Security number. However, she is still unable to vote or even hold down a job.

“I’m in Missouri, but I’m back and forth [between here and Tennessee]. I had to give up my home. I don’t have a place to stay. I can’t get a mortgage,” she told People.

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“I can get a job but I can’t keep a job,” Carthen added, noting that the wrong Social Security number is listed on her E-Verify, which determines an employee’s eligibility to work.

Carthen hopes that one day the error will get “cleared up” for good, and she will be able to find “adequate employment.”

Despite all the issues she’s had to navigate, Carthen has been able to receive disability benefits.

“I’m dealing with aortic valve regurgitation and atrial fibrillation. I’m in stage three kidney renal failure. How is it that I can go through these things and they classify me as dead and I’m not, but I’m on disability?” she told People.

“Everything has been stripped from me. I’m blocked,” Carthen added.

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