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Valley woman incorrectly declared 'dead' by government passes away after error was discovered

The Social Security Administration mistakenly declared Mary Tsukamoto dead back in April 2022. Her family said she recently passed away on New Year's Eve.

PHOENIX — A Valley woman declared "dead" by the Social Security Administration in April of last year just recently passed away over the holidays. 

That clerical error caused a major financial headache for the family of Mary Tsukamoto, who are now having to handle all of the bureaucratic hiccups along with the heartache of losing a parent.

"She just had died peacefully in her sleep. I just wanted to focus on spending time with my parents while they were still there for me to spend time with," said Deborah Cristobal, Mary's daughter.

Cristobal was visiting her folks from California in December for the holidays. Her previous trip in September was spent driving her mother out to a Social Security Office in a wheelchair for proof of life. 

The Social Security Administration incorrectly declared Mary dead in April 2022.

"It messed up everything with Medicare and hospice payments because they put the word out that my mother was deceased, which was not true," Cristobal said.

She said she's still dealing with this unfortunate mistake. Meanwhile, her 85-year-old mom actually passed away on New Year's Eve. 

Her father, Dave Tsukamoto, who was married to Mary for 64 years, has moved to California to be closer to his daughter.

"He was always like that, tried to talk to her and try to feed her and give her something to drink, and it was just so cute," the daughter said. 

She's now patiently awaiting her mom's death certificate to avoid further confusion and ultimately get the eight months of owed Social Security payments.

"$4,000...a little bit over $4,000, and yeah, that can definitely help my dad, who I've moved back to Santa Barbara to be closer to me. I want to get that money back for my mom and even though it's too late for her, at least it could benefit my dad," Cristobal said.

We reached out to the Social Security Administration about the issue, and they responded by saying this was a personal matter they couldn't discuss. But the agency did provide a phone number, which 12News relayed to Cristobal to hopefully get the problem resolved.

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