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Tooele woman says IRS gave deceased husband stimulus money, and she's not alone

Posted at 10:24 PM, Apr 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-20 12:10:06-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Some Utahns are reporting that federal stimulus checks are being sent to spouses and relatives who are no longer living. It's leaving questions over how this happened, and what family members should do with the money.

Nora Walker was excited when her stimulus deposit came through on Monday. She said she was going to use it to make her house payment, and buy gas and groceries.

But then she noticed the amount deposited into her bank account.

"I look at the top... I said, 'Daniel, I've got $2,400 in here," she recounted, of what she told her son. "He said, 'You shouldn't have.' I said, 'Well, I do.'"

Nora realized the IRS gave her not just her share of the stimulus, but her husband Joe's $1200 as well. The problem? Joe passed away in June of 2018.

Nora said they updated both the IRS and Social Security after his passing.

"I told Danny, 'Why would they send him money, when they know he's deceased?'" She asked. "And Daniel said, 'Momma, I don't have a clue.'"

And Nora didn't have a clue what to do with the money-- call and return it? Wait for the mistake to be corrected and money withdrawn? Spend it?

Though, the money wasn't Nora's only concern.

"I know he's going to be gone for two years, but it just hurts. You just want to cry, because they made they mistake," Nora said, tears welling in her eyes. "They bring back old memories."

She said the emotions from losing her husband are still raw, and were brought back up all over again.

There are others across the country in the same boat-- stimulus direct deposits and checks meant for people who are no longer alive to spend the money.

"Not too funny when you think about a program like this trying to help people, and ended up having some waste like this," said Bob Hyland.

He lives in Pennsylvania, and said his mother-in-law in Georgia passed away in 2019.

Bob got a text from his brother-in-law, saying that their mom got the stimulus check.

"Obviously she doesn't need it," Bob said. "My mother-in-law was a pretty upright person. I think she would want us to give it back."

His family is trying to figure out how to give the money back now.

So is Nora.

"My money sits in limbo, because I don't know what to do," she said. "If I spend it, I could get in trouble. If I leave it, I don't have nothing to use."

Nora tried to call the IRS, but didn't hear back. Fox 13 also reached out to the IRS, and has not heard back either.

Instead of spending the money, Nora is now spending time missing her husband of 60 years.

"I just wished they hadn't made the mistake," she said. "I wouldn't have... the heartache again."