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Social Security's Direct Express delay causes problems for grieving family

Social Security depleted by 2023 if Trump eliminates payroll taxes, federal official says
Posted at 5:25 PM, Jun 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-01 20:35:39-04

BOULDER, Colo. — Kathy Kramer's stories of her little brother, Richard Hocket, are filled with music, adventure and love.

"That's one of our rock groups. That's Rick there, and that's me. We've toured all over," said Kramer. "I felt responsible for him, and so you know, we've looked after each other all the time."

Even at the end while Rick battled cancer, she was his caregiver, and he wanted to take care of her, too.

"He saved his Social Security money," Kramer said. "He said, "I have put $7,000 away, and I'm going to keep that for my funeral expenses." And I was with him when he passed away."

While grieving her loss in April, Kramer discovered Rick's Social Security money had been deposited in a Direct Express account run by Comerica Bank. It's how millions of Social Security recipients receive their benefits.

With no Comerica branches in Colorado, Kramer says it took a month to get the paperwork she needed to fill out from the bank. She says bank representatives told her it would take another four to six weeks for approval. Meanwhile, she received her brother's PERA funds within 5 days.

Her brother's funeral was put on hold, and Kramer dipped into her savings to pay for his cremation.

Contact Denver7 found news reports investigating problems with Direct Express Debit cards, and an audit examining previous issues.

So, we reached out to Comerica bank and the U.S. Department of Fiscal Services, and Kramer says she immediately saw results after more than a month of waiting.

"Yesterday, I got a call that they were going to expedite it and give me my check," she said. "If it hadn't been for Channel 7, I'd still be waiting probably another month or two. I think it's just marvelous that you help people like you do."

Now, instead of dealing with red tape, Kramer is remembering the beautiful music and memories her brother brought to her life and planning the funeral he deserves.

"It really was the best time of our lives," she said.

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