Man misidentified in hospital loses disability, Medicaid payments after being declared dead

Man misidentified in hospital loses benefits after being declared dead

CHICAGO (WBBM/CNN) - A Chicago man is now fighting for his social security and disability benefits after a mix up incorrectly declared him dead.

It started with a traffic accident on April 29.

A man with fatal injuries was erroneously identified as Alfonso Bennett who was alive and well.

Bennett’s sisters even waited at the man's bedside.

They were overjoyed when they found out their brother was still alive but that wasn't the end of the story.

Bennett said he was home on that April morning.

That was the same time Chicago police were called to 4732 South Wabash to find a naked, unresponsive man under a vehicle.

The man’s face and body were badly beaten.

"Unbelievable,” Bennett said. “No. Couldn't have been. I'm here with you now.' "

A person at the scene captured on police body camera told officers the man’s name was Elijah Bennett.

Police ran that name through a database for a face match.

They found no Elijah, but did find an Alfonso Bennett.

Police gave the mugshot to Chicago’s Mercy Hospital.

Bennett’s sisters stayed by the man’s side at the hospital until he died.

"We said that doesn't look like our brother," said Brenda Bennett-Johnson.

He would later be identified through fingerprints as Elisha Brittman.

"Our hearts go out to the Brittman family because we were by his side," Bennett-Johnson said.

Bennett said fingerprints should have been taken from Brittman.

“With this person being unrecognizable, identifiable fingerprints should have been taken at that time to identify precisely who that gentleman was,” Bennett said.

Chicago police said there was no need and no request by the family to do fingerprints because they had identified the man in ICU as their loved one.

Bennett's sisters would learn he was alive when he showed up at a sister's house just days before the funeral they had planned for him.

"I'm looking at them like ‘wow,’” Bennett said. “I'm ready to barbeque or something and they're looking at me like I'm a ghost."

He became emotional when talking about his sisters by the man's bedside.

"I understand that, and I feel that and that's a very detrimental feeling to have about someone that you know," he said.

Bennett is now fighting to get his disability and social security payments.

He's also dealing with Medicaid which is charging him for the deceased man's hospital stay.

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