Wanda Witter lived homeless on the streets of Washington, D.C. for nearly 20 years. A portion of that time she spent trying to convince officials the IRS owed her $100,000, but people dismissed her as crazy. Now her bizarre saga has ended, and it turns out she was right. The IRS did owe her money.
If I just cashed them, who would believe me that they were wrong?
Fresh with a new paralegal certificate, Witter arrived in D.C. looking for work in 1996. But she remained jobless and after a decade had passed, she decided to draw upon her Social Security benefits. She soon realized the check amounts varied from $900 to $300 and refused to cash them.
Living outdoors there's a lot wrong with that...you are just scared to death and all I told myself was keep your head on straight.
She lived on concrete floors in a sleeping bag, traveled in and out of shelters, but remained steadfast in her attempt for what she believed to be properly hers . As Witter puts it, "I'm stubborn and that's it." Some may call it stubbornness, while others would call it perseverance.
In 2015, social worker Julie Turner listened to Witter's story. She noticed the three suitcases she had carried around and was surprised to find they were filled with social security documents, all filed in neat order.
After reviewing them, she brought Witter's case to Daniela de la Piedra of the Legal Counsel for the Elderly, an affiliate working for the AARP. A Social Security official acknowledged the case and error.
On Aug. 19, 2016, Wanda Witter received her full payout -- more than $100,000.