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87-Year-Old Brooklyn Woman Mistakenly Declared Dead Gets Benefits Back

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A Brooklyn woman who said she lost all her health benefits because she was declared dead has gotten her benefits back, CBS2 has learned.

"I'm grateful," Cohen said Monday. "Yes, I'm grateful."

Selma Cohen, 87, of Midwood, Brooklyn, is very much alive. But the letter she received this week from the city's Bureau of Fraud Investigation states she is dead, CBS2's Hazel Sanchez reported.

"I said it must be wrong," said Cohen, a widow and cancer survivor. "You know, maybe it's a joke or something."

The letter said Cohen's Medicaid was discontinued because records indicated that she was deceased.

"If they have down that the lady is deceased, I doubt if they're going to send me a check," Cohen said. "When you're dead, they don't send you checks."

After a call to Medicaid, Cohen said she found out it was a computer error – a mistake easily made, but not easily fixed.

Cohen said she went to the Medicaid office in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, where a clerk told her they could not help her and she would have to go to the Social Security office to apply for a state ID to prove she is alive.

The process could have taken weeks, but on Monday, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's office got it all cleared up after the senator saw the CBS2 report, Sanchez reported.

"She told me she saw it on Channel 2, and that's where she picked it up," Cohen said.

Cohen's Medicaid and benefits are back online, and she will even be reimbursed for the days she was considered dead.

"I think you people are wonderful," Cohen told Sanchez.

Gillibrand released a statement Monday afternoon saying: "We're grateful to the news team for highlighting this case so we can make sure Ms. Cohen receives the services she needs."

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