FINDLAY, Ohio (AP) — The government wants to recoup benefits paid to the daughters of an Ohio man who was declared legally dead as he stood in court providing ample evidence of his continued existence.
Donald Miller Jr. disappeared in the 1980s, and a death ruling in 1994 allowed his family to get the benefits. When the 62-year-old Miller resurfaced, saying he had lived in other states and then returned to Ohio, the government apparently took notice.
Miller has tried unsuccessfully to undo his death. A Hancock County judge turned down the request last year, citing a three-year time limit for changing a death ruling under Ohio law, even as he acknowledged it was problematic.
Now the Social Security Administration wants his two daughters to return more than $47,000 to cover benefits they received as teenagers, plus interest, his ex-wife, Robin Miller, told The Courier in Findlay. Letters about the requested repayments were sent in April, and the family was stunned, she said.
“If anybody has to pay this back, it should be him, because we didn’t do anything wrong,” she said.
Donald Miller, of Fostoria, couldn’t be reached for comment, and his attorney wouldn’t return calls, the newspaper said.
A Social Security spokesman, Doug Nguyen in Chicago, said the agency is reviewing Robin Miller’s application for a waiver.
Robin Miller said the family didn’t defraud the government and had taken steps to find Donald Miller after he vanished, including contacting the FBI and hiring a private investigator.
“We honestly thought he was done, dead, gone and out of our lives,” she said.