Deadbeat, redefined

On the surface, the story sounds like one of typical bureaucratic disfunction: A man declared legally dead can’t get a judge to reverse that ruling, despite appearing live in court; and the Social Security Administration sues to recoup benefits paid to survivors.

Dig deeper, and the issue isn’t quite that simple.

The saga began in 1994, when Donald Miller Jr. was declared legally dead. His ex-wife, Robin Miller, says she contacted the FBI and even hired a private investigator to find the father of her two daughters, to no avail.

The declaration allowed the girls to receive survivors benefits until the age of 18.

But Mr. Miller resurfaced a year ago and, finding his Social?Security had been cancelled, asked a judge to reverse the ruling declaring him legally dead.

The judge denied the request after finding Ohio estate law only permits the legal death ruling to be undone within three years.

More recently, the Social Security Administration sought repayment of benefits paid to the two daughters.

It’s important to note the issue involves estate law in Ohio and rules by the Social Security Administration, a federal agency. So it’s not a case of one hand not knowing what the other is doing.

It is a case of the term deadbeat dad being taken to an entirely new level. Robin Miller has applied for a waiver, so eventually the Social Security Administration could seek repayment from Donald Miller.

Which would beg the question: How does one garnish the livelihood of a person who is legally dead?