Social Security denied to Whittier widow because husband died 6 hours before legal threshold

WHITTER, Calif. (KABC) -- Six hours.

That's all that is preventing a heartbroken 70-year-old Whittier widow from receiving her late husband's Social Security benefits.

Because of that six-hour gap, Hazel Brooks is caught up in a red tape nightmare with the Social Security Administration.

Brooks lost her husband Floyd earlier this year. He had been sick for a long time, nearly their entire 11-year relationship. But they waited until more recently to get married.

"Last year he said, 'You know, I should make you legal,' and we got married," Brooks recalled with a wistful laugh.

That was Oct. 29, 2015.

That date is important - the 29th.

The other sadly important date is July 28, 2016 - the day Floyd passed.

"And Floyd looked up at me and he said, 'I love you,' and he winked at me, and you could just see, you could just see his body just float," Hazel recalled.

That was one day shy of nine months. Really, just six hours before the calendar change.

To the government, that six hours makes a world of difference.

Brooks received a letter from Social Security informing her she would be denied Floyd's death benefits, because to be eligible in California you have to have been married for nine months.

"We missed it by one day," she said. "Really by six hours."

In fact, even more unfortunate - if 2016 had not been a Leap Year, his death would have fallen on July 29.

Brooks has one more chance to appeal the government denial but has to wait another 30 days and is afraid the money will run out before then. She's pleading for Social Security to help her.

"I don't know what I'm gonna do," she said, sobbing. "But I'm tough, I'll keep tugging."

Some friends have set up a GoFundMe page to help Hazel Brooks.
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