FORT MYERS, Fla.- One Fort Myers centenarian got an unexpected early birthday surprise- Social Security, cutting her off. The agency thought she was dead...but as Gladys "Toots" Malarkey celebrates her 105th birthday, she says she's never felt better.
"Everybody asks me, what is my secret? I tell everybody have love in your heart and a smile on your face," Malarkey said during her birthday party on Tuesday.
But according to Social Security, Toots Malarkey is dead. The agency didn't deposit her November monthly allowance, declaring her case closed. Her granddaughter found out about the mix-up earlier this month, after receiving an overdraft notice from Toots' bank.
"I first thought it might be fraud. Maybe someone got her bank number and wiped out her account. It was the only thing I could think of," Toots' granddaughter, Bev Ridge said Tuesday.
Turns out, investigators confused Toots with another local Malarkey who's since passed on. Neighbors confirmed that woman was dead. Social Security then closed Toots' case, and cut her off.
"That's why her checks didn't come. Because they had her dead. So I said, 'Well Toots, they killed ya," Ridge said.
After some phone calls, and a face-to-face meeting between Toots and the Social Security investigator, her status is now resurrected.
Toots is relieved it's over, and despite the ordeal, she says life couldn't be sweeter.
"I get happier every day. There's something that makes me happy," Malarkey said.
Toots Malarkey was born on November 23rd, 1905. She has five grandchildren, 7 great-grandchildren, and 23 great-great grandchildren.