A homeless woman who insisted she was owed $100,000 has been proven right after 16 years

No one believed Wanda Witter that she was owed the money from social security - until one person chose to help

Rachael Revesz
New York
Tuesday 23 August 2016 20:19 BST
Ms Witter, 80, has finally been able to move into her own apartment
Ms Witter, 80, has finally been able to move into her own apartment (Rex)

A homeless woman in Washington DC who told everyone that she was due a $100,000 cheque from social security has finally been proven right - after 16 years of living on the streets.

Wanda Witter, 80, spent more than a decade sleeping nearby a McDonald’s with three suitcases of belongings, telling anybody that would listen that she was due the money.

“They kept thinking I was crazy, telling me to get rid of the suitcases,” Ms Witter, a mother of four, told the Washington Post.

But the cheque finally came after she was helped by a social worker called Julie Turner who then appointed her a lawyer.

The longstanding battle with the federal agency started when Ms Witter lost her job as a machinist in Corning, and she moved in with her daughter who lived in Colorado. She applied to take paralegal classes at a local community college and graduated three years later.

But she did not manage to secure paralegal work in Washington DC, and her social security cheques that she decided to draw between 2006 and 2008 were coming through in incorrect amounts, so she crossed them out as “void” and sent them back, determined to fix the issue.

When her money ran out, and she moved into a homeless shelter, refusing help from her daughter.

She then took up the fight to get the cheques re-sent, even if they were for the wrong amount. She was sent to mental counsellors, but she insisted she was telling the truth and was owed the money.

In May this year, she was taken by Ms Turner to the Legal Counsel for the Elderly, where her lawyer, Daniela de la Piedra, consented she was owed the money.

In June 2016, she received a cheque for $999 - the maximum amount Social Security could write up straight away.

But the problems did not end there. While she was waiting for more money to come in, a homeless man rammed a stack of chairs into her face while she tried to prevent him from rummaging through another woman’s belongings, leaving her with a blackened eye.

The first full payments are now reportedly coming in, and Ms Witter has moved in to her own apartment, which costs $500 per month.

“She needed economic help, not mental help,” Ms Turner told the Post.

“That’s part of the problem with homelessness in DC. So many cases are written off as being about mental illness. A lot of times, homelessness really is simply about economics.”

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