This is Jeff Athey, and according to the United States government, Jeff is dead.
He's technically 26 years old. However, if you consider the four years the government has listed him as deceased, you could argue that he's actually 22.
But let's start from the beginning:
Earlier this week, Jeff went massively viral after sharing a video explaining that he was mistakenly declared deceased by the Social Security Administration (SSA) on May 19, 2017, and has spent the last four years desperately trying to convince the organization that he is very much alive.
In his four-part video series, Jeff reenacts the strangest encounters and conversations he's had with officials within the administration while attempting to legally "resurrect" himself.
During his first trip to the SSA, Jeff was met by one disgruntled employee who would have preferred that he ask for anything, even money, rather than attempting a resurrection. However, according to him, another office member promised Jeff that he'd be brought back from the dead after securing proof of his existence through his birth certificate, state ID, and passport.
The process was meant to bring Jeff back to life in 2-3 weeks but, as you may have guessed from his 4-year death timeline, the system failed.
A month following his SSA visit, Jeff tried speaking to a tax associate about his everlasting corpse status, and was advised to follow up with the office and possibly provide more proof of existence. "Gather more proof than just my living, breathing, agonizing existence? Got it," Jeff joked.
When speaking to BuzzFeed about the moment he realized he was a part of the undead, Jeff said, "I was attempting to file my taxes and received a notice that my tax return was rejected because the individual attached to my social security number was deceased. After checking my pulse, I called the Social Security Administration to confirm that I had indeed passed away and they neglected to tell me."
While dead, taxes have continued to be automatically withdrawn from Jeff's account, but he has been unable to file his taxes, and therefore unable to collect a tax return or any stimulus money. Jeff suspects the backpay owed is currently somewhere over $3,000 in taxes alone.
However, one of the largest hurdles for Jeff continues to be bringing himself back to life outside of the SSA. "The further issue came afterwards," Jeff explained. "Because when someone dies, the SSA tells every other facility that gets records from them. [But], when someone gets resurrected, sometimes this news doesn't always get to every facility. So then I have to get on the phone or go in person to figure out who thinks I'm dead this time."
According to the Denver Post, about 7,400 people are prematurely declared dead every year. Though obstacles put in place to resurrect someone may seem daunting, the goal is to prevent someone from stealing an actual dead person's identity. However, I think we can all agree that four years is a bit... excessive.
But Jeff, who cracked jokes throughout our chat, laughs off the experience. "If this was going to happen to anyone, it might as well happen to me, because I think it's hilarious," he said.
On April 12, 2019, the now 26-year-old (22?), said he visited the SSA office for a second time and was told that his resurrection didn't go through, and that his request would be expedited. Ultimately, this was meant to bring him back to life in 2-3 days.
And it worked! Jeff was issued a letter instructing him to "change his records" to show that he's actually alive! Yay!
"But not everyone got the memo," Jeff reiterated. "Which is where the struggle continues."
While Jeff keeps trying to bring himself back to life in the eyes of other government agencies, he did offer a bit of advice for others who may find themselves in a similar situation: "If this happens to you, I recently learned from comments and DMs from my videos [that] you should try contacting your congressperson!"
If you want to keep up with Jeff, the living dead person, and his journey toward life, follow him on TikTok.
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