My bank resolved the following problem in less than two days, but I would like to understand why/how the problem happened.

My husband died in mid-January, and several days later his Social Security check was deposited in our checking account. About 6 weeks later, the SSA took back the deposited check, which is Standard Operating Procedure when a check is issued after death.

A few days ago the SSA took back the check again. I went to the bank and they said they would fix it, and they did. Everything is OK.

But why did this happen? Is this, if not a common error, at least not unheard of?

The only connection I can think of is that two or three weeks ago, I retitled the checking account by removing my husband's name, because his SS# was the reporting number. Coincidence or cause?

This snafu could be a real hardship for many people, especially if they did not have such an efficient and acomodating bank as I did.

Any experts out there who can explain this snafu?

  • Being a (former) computer programmer who worked on this kind of system, I can imagine a complicated set of rules implemented with some bugs. You renaming the checking account probably initiated one of those corner case bugs.
    – RonJohn
    Oct 9, 2019 at 0:19
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    Forgive me for being indelicate, keep in mind as you get closer to year end, you still file as MFJ, and that brings a $24K standard deduction, and married/joint tax brackets. This might suggest a Roth conversion, or retirement acct withdrawal this year. Oct 9, 2019 at 1:47
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    @Joe Taxpayer Yes, thank you, I know I file as MFJ, but your comment will be useful for others in my position reading this post. As for the standard deduction, it is advantageous for me to itemize. And I am, unfortunately, years beyond doing anything with retirement accounts except taking the RMD. But again, thank you for your thoughtfulness
    – ab2
    Oct 9, 2019 at 3:05

1 Answer 1


Best guess is that the arm (or maybe tentacle?) of the SSA that requested the return wasn't yet informed of the success by the other arm that processed the returned money - any incoming money has to go through a processing where it gets assigned to the proper account, and that might just take a while.

Otherwise...things get lost... this is government we are talking about.

  • Seven Months? (March to October). (Love tentacle.)
    – ab2
    Oct 9, 2019 at 2:41

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