Woman receives disability placard for mother-in-law years after her death

A woman is in shock after receiving a disability placard for her mother-in-law nearly five years after her death.

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Stoughton native Linda Guertin said her mother-in-law, Emily, was legally blind and couldn't drive, so she would have a placard for when she would take trips with family or friends. She died in 2013.

"It will be five years next month, October," Guertin said.

Now, nearly five years after the death, Guertin received a letter in her mother-in-law's name from the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles, renewing her disability placard.

"Yeah, we miss the heck out of her, but why is the state even doing this?" Guertin said. "I can't fathom why it happened, I really don't."

Guertin contacted Boston 25 News after a report on a state audit revealed the RMV issued 1,905 licenses to people who were deceased.

"How ironic is this to have this come in the mail, and then hear you guys talking about this online?" Guertin said.

State auditor Suzanne Bump blamed the problem on the RMV's inability to properly use a federal database.

In this case, a Massachusetts Department of Transportation spokesperson said it was the Social Security Administration's database that was wrong.

"When the Registry issued this placard for an individual with a permanent disability, this individual was not listed as deceased according to the federal SSA database, the same database the State Auditor recommends the Registry use," the spokesperson wrote in a statement.

However, Guertin was left confused as to why it is still an issue, almost five years later.

"She's been gone five years, how long does a database take?"

The SSA updates the RMV every month.

"Her social security stopped, her benefits stopped, everything stopped," Guertin said. "We sent in death certificates everywhere. If I didn't live here, would someone take this and just put it on their car and say, 'Oh, now I can park anywhere I want?'"

In 2016, the RMV began using the Massachusetts Department of Health's data to cross-reference information, which identified more individuals as deceased.

Since Guertin passed away before the database was created, her information is not included.

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