Man with Special Needs Declared Dead by Mistake and Has His Benefits Revoked: 'Really Hard and Frustrating'

After Kevin Gill was falsely pronounced dead, ABC 7 New York helped remedy the error — and got his health care reinstated

<p></p> Kevin Gill, who the SSA declared dead by mistake in April 2024, holding a photo of his late mother

Kevin Gill, who the SSA declared dead by mistake in April 2024, holding a photo of his late mother

A New York man with special needs was declared deceased on accident — and the mistake took weeks to remedy.

When his mom and primary caregiver since birth, Virginia, died last year on Christmas Eve, Kevin Gill was distraught. Months later, the 67-year-old Staten Island native — who still can’t look at his mother's photos without becoming overwhelmed with emotion — was also declared dead, ABC7 New York reported.

On April 1, Kevin, one of five siblings in his family, received a sympathy notice from the Social Security Administration (SSA). The letter, which began, “We are so sorry for your loss,” cut off all of his Social Security benefits, as well as his health insurance, Medicare.

And because the government’s records say Kevin died at the same time as his mom, the SSA also sought the money it granted him in the four months following his erroneous death.

"His medical care is canceled, effectively, as a result of this," his sister, Karen O'Boyle, told ABC7.

Kevin not only suffers from several health issues and takes multiple medications regularly, but he also needed a cataract surgery around the time the notice arrived.

Despite several attempts over several weeks, his family was unable to correct the error or get his benefits reinstated. They were completely locked out of their government account, and turned to ABC7 for help.

“They know he was alive because we were down there with him,” said Kevin’s brother, Kenny Gill, while O'Boyle called the whole situation “really hard, really hard and frustrating.”

“Because it's all you get is bureaucratic red tape, and no sense of urgency,” she told ABC7. “That's the part that's really hard.”

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Speaking about why she reached out to the New York outlet to help her brother, O'Boyle said, “I think that's one of the great things about where we are in this… what we have in this country — the press helps.”

After ABC 7 reached out to the SSA, the agency rectified the mistake and sent Kevin and his family a check for $4,576, the outlet reported.

In a statement, the SSA said, “We are happy to resolve this issue and thank 7 On Your Side [ABC7] for bringing it to our attention.”

The SSA did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

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