Juana Escudero knows she’s alive. She just can’t prove it.
Escudero, a 53-year-old woman from Alcala de Guadaira, a town outside of Seville in southern Spain, has been unable to renew her driver’s license or go to the doctor since 2010 because various government officers believe she’s dead — the result of a seven-year-old clerical error.
On May 13, 2010, a woman in Malaga was declared dead and her information – including full name and date of birth – match Lezcano’s exactly. This caused their Social Security information to clash and Lezcano was subsequently declared deceased.
“[I have] suffered for more than six years,” she told EFE, according to El Diario de Sevilla.
Escudero said she first learned of the error when she visited the emergency room and her primary care physician checked her out.
“He looked at her, not knowing how to break it to her, and told her that according to Social Security records she was deceased,” her daughter, Marta, told the newspaper, adding “the family has not found the funny side of this story for a long time now.”
The doctor still treated Escudero “because she knew me and knew my situation was urgent,” but that the error needed to be fixed sooner rather than later.
At first, Escudero thought it was just a computer error that could be fixed quickly at the Social Security offices. That wasn’t the case.
“They explained to me that someone probably made a typo or maybe it was a computer error. But we went to the treasury, to the courts…and everywhere I appeared as deceased,” she told the newspaper.
When her husband passed away in 2011, she needed a certification of life to receive widow benefits, but instead was told she could be charged with identify fraud.
“On top of killing me, they find me, without hearing my story,” Escudero said, joking that she is dead to everyone but the banks, to whom she pays loans and mortgage on a regular basis. “On the government’s computers I am dead, but for the banks I am alive and kicking.”
In April 2016, she found out that a woman with her name and data had been buried six years prior in Malaga – about 127 miles away.
She said her daughter called the cemetery and confirmed the burial date and that the remains has been transferred to an ossuary because maintenance fees had not been paid. She also confirmed her mother’s social security and date of birth.
“’Look,’ my daughter told them, ‘that person is my mother and she is here right next to me,’” Escudero said. “Imagine the woman’s face at the cemetery.”
Earlier this month she filed a petition with Malaga courts to have the grave opened and has offered to do a DNA test – anything – to prove that the woman buried is not her.
Escudero says no one has explained to her how the woman has died, but believes that she has been confused with a sister with whom she has no contact and whose whereabouts are unknown. She said she has no connection to Malaga.