Paralegal School Graduate, Turned Homeless, Wins 16-Year Fight with Social Security Administration

Homeless woman, Wanda Witter, is making serious headlines across the country as her 16 -year battle with the Social Security Administration finally comes to a much anticipated close.

According to the Washington Post, Witter’s amazing story of survival and justice goes something like this:

  • Witter loses her job as a machinist for Ingersoll-Rand plant in Corning, New York
  • Relocates to Fort Carson, Colorado to live with her daughter and enrolls at Pikes Peak Community College, later obtaining a paralegal certificate
  • Leaves Colorado around 1999 to find paralegal work in Washington, DC but can only get odd jobs that leave her financially unstable and living on the streets
  • Starts dipping into Social Security benefits in 2006 but refuses to cash government-issued checks because of inaccurate payment amounts and eventually stops receiving checks altogether
  • Despite endless letters, phone calls, and help from homeless service providers, Witter is treated as mentally ill and any attempts at a resolution are largely ignored by the SSA

Witter’s unrelenting stubbornness and frustration stemmed from her ability to prove the SSA was at fault and owed a substantial sum of money. In fact, she carried around suitcases filled with organized documentation to that effect.

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Then she met social worker Julie Turner.

Turner decided to meet with Witter after being contacted by the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless. As she waded through the mountains of paperwork Witter had accumulated throughout the years, Turner was shocked to discover that Witter was absolutely correct in her claim.

Soon afterward, Social Security dispute attorney Daniela de la Piedra got involved through her work with the AARP-affiliated group Legal Counsel for the Elderly and now Witter will receive a $99,999 check from the SSA.

As for the SSA’s take on Witter’s case, a spokeswoman told the Washington Post that the agency was not authorized to comment on individual cases.

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