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Homeless woman proves Social Security owed her $100,000

Wanda Witter, 80, celebrated the arrival of $100,000 from Social Security on Tuesday.
Wanda Witter, 80, celebrated the arrival of $100,000 from Social Security on Tuesday.
Published Aug. 24, 2016

For years, Wanda Witter had lived on the streets in Washington, D.C., trying to persuade officials that Social Security owed her more than $100,000. For years, the 80-year-old woman says people dismissed her as crazy.

But finally someone listened — and on Tuesday she received a $99,999 payout, the Washington Post reported.

Witter moved to the District of Columbia in 1999 to seek work after losing her job as a machinist in New York years earlier, according to the Post.

But even though Witter had earned a paralegal certificate to prepare for a new career, she remained jobless. In 2006 she decided to draw Social Security benefits. However, the monthly checks varied wildly, from $900 to $300. Believing the checks were wrong, Witter didn't cash them and sought help.

"If I just cashed them, who would believe me that they were wrong?" Witter said.

She remained homeless, bedding down on the concrete in a sleeping bag. She kept a tower of three suitcases, with her Social Security paperwork, next to her.

In 2015 social worker Julie Turner listened. Instead of dismissing Witter as crazy, Turner patiently waded through her documents and verified her story.

"She had all the paperwork there, neatly organized, in order. She was right all along. They did owe her all that money," Turner said.

Turner took Witter to attorney Daniela de la Piedra, who took on her case. In June, a Social Security official finally acknowledged Witter's case and wrote her a $999 check — the most that could be written on the spot. Last week, Witter received her first full payment — $1,464.

Witter received a $99,999 Social Security deposit in her bank account on Tuesday.

She moved into a studio apartment on Capitol Hill.

Social Security officials declined to comment.

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