A woman in the United States got the fright of her life when she learned she was "dead" after trying to go online to pay her student loans.

Irina Chamberlain, who is certainly alive and kicking, said she was declared dead by the Social Security Administration in December and has since struggled to access her bank account and pay off her student loan.

The Cincinnati woman told WCPO, "I actually thought, 'Maybe I actually died and did not realise that.' I reached for my dog and I was like, 'Can I touch them? Am I still alive, or what's going on?'"

Since Chamberlain was declared dead she hasn't been able to make bank deposits or withdrawals, meaning she cannot pay her bills on time.

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Unfortunately for her, it appears her attempt to declare herself alive again has been a struggle.

Irina Chamberlain went online to pay her student loans, she was surprised to learn that she was 'dead'. Photo / WCPO
Irina Chamberlain went online to pay her student loans, she was surprised to learn that she was 'dead'. Photo / WCPO

When she tried to call the Social Security office to remedy the mistake, she was put on hold for more than hour.

"[They asked] 'Well, what's more important — to lose money or prove that you're alive?' I said both are important, but who pays me for losing a day of work," Chamberlain said.

"I don't have time to prove that I'm alive," she said. "Somebody's mistake should exist like that, you can't [make a] mistake like that, claim somebody dead and don't even check maybe this person is alive."

In a statement, the Social Security Administration said it "recognises erroneous death cases are very sensitive because of financial hardship and distress", and that it works to correct cases like this immediately.

Thousands of people are wrongly declared dead in the US every year, with the majority of cases unable to be corrected.

A representative from Legal Aid in the US said when you're declared dead "you have nothing. They've frozen your bank accounts, you can't use credit cards."

According to the Social Security Administration, deaths are reported to them from states, family members, funeral homes and financial institutions.

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