Homeless Woman Battles Feds For $100,000
A homeless woman living in Washington DC has waged an inspirational one-woman war against Uncle Sam for money she says they owe her. For years, Wanda Witter slept on the streets, clutching three suitcases filled with proof, until one day, someone believed her!
After losing her job as a machinist in Corning, NY, Wanda Witter earned a paralegal certificate and set out for Washington, DC in 1999 to find work. But the then 70-year-old had a hard time finding work, and ended up sleeping on the streets in DC. She hid that she was a homeless woman from her four daughters out of pride.
In 2006, Wanda decided to draw her Social Security benefits. That’s when Wanda noticed that the amounts on the checks didn’t quite add up. So Wanda returned all the checks and tried to get help fixing the problem–all while continuing to sleep on the ground.
“If I just cashed them, who would believe me that they were wrong?” Wanda said.
She collected all the paperwork she would need to prove her case, filling three suitcases that she carried around for safekeeping. Anytime she sought help, she was offered mental health counseling. But Wanda wasn’t mentally ill, she needed economic help! But nobody believed Wanda.
“They kept thinking I was crazy, telling me to get rid of the suitcases,” Wanda said. “I knew, when I committed to homelessness, I had to be very careful about what I did. ‘Don’t do anything stupid,’ I told myself. Because they’ll think I’m a mental case,” she said.
Homeless Woman Gets Help
In 2015, finally someone listened. Social Worker Julie Turner patiently looked through Wanda’s paperwork and took her to an attorney. “She had all the paperwork there, neatly organized, in order. She was right all along. They did owe her all that money,” said Julie. In June, officials at the Social Security Office not only admitted how severely Wanda had been wrong, but they also cut her a check for $999–the largest amount they’re authorized to write on the spot.
In August 2016, Wanda got her first real payment, a check for $1,464. Later that week, $99,999 was deposited into Wanda’s account, and the government admits she is owed more.
Now, Wanda is living in an apartment in Capitol Hill while she waits on the feds to finish resolving her problem. “I’m overwhelmed. I’ve never had this much money before. How do you act when you have $100,000?” she wondered.
With all this behind her, Wanda is ready to pursue her life. “I’ve got grandchildren I’ve never met,” she said.
credit: Washington Post