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Man having a tough time proving he's alive, not dead

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BATON ROUGE - A man who is clearly alive says he was marked dead by the Social Security Administration and Veterans Affairs. For the last few weeks, Lonnell Brister has been fighting for his life and come up unsuccessful. It's why he contacted 2 On Your Side's Brittany Weiss Monday morning.

"They tell me to wait, be patient, etc.; I ain't got no food," Brister said.

The mix-up happened last month when Brister's son, with the same name, died at the age of 48. On paper, Lonnell Brister, Jr., is still alive and well while Brister, Sr., is dead. It should be the opposite.

Brister's son died on November 10, 2018. The death certificate acts as proof but Brister hasn't had much success in proving who's alive and who's dead.

Brister served nine and a half years in the US Navy and is a Vietnam veteran. While he was on his way to the Veteran's Affairs Hospital in New Orleans, he stopped for gas and his debit card was declined. That's when he learned his social security and veterans benefits he expects every month were never deposited because of his death status.

"Social security told me that they're going to have to send my check back when it does come because I still ain't got this thing fixed about me being alive," he said.

He's been struggling to buy food to feed himself and purchase gas to get around town. Brister says his checks have bounced and he was unable to afford his mortgage payment for the month of December.

"I'm being penalized, and my son is dead and I'm hurting over that," he said. "I don't have no money; I have to beg for food."

The Social Security Office responded to 2 On Your Side's inquiries Monday afternoon. It says it will delete the erroneous death information that's on record. Brister tells WBRZ the social security office wrote him a check for a partial benefit while the error is cleared. Brister is happy to report his death status has been lifted and he's "alive again." He's also working with the VA to straighten out the error through its office.

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