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Local veteran's fight for social security picks up steam

Though it still looks like it will be an uphill battle, Hastings resident and Navy veteran Tony Rose's fight to get social security seems to be progressing in his favor.

"There's been more action in the last three weeks than there's been in the past two years," he said.

The 67-year-old resident of the Minnesota Veterans Home Hastings has been fighting for the past two years to get his social security pension from the U.S. government, so far, without success.

An investigation into Rose's case within the Social Security Administration could start soon, and Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman's office has gotten involved in Rose's struggle to get the social security coverage he says he deserves.

Stella Mednik, an attorney who specializes in immigration law, has taken on Rose's case pro bono. She said she was contacted by a representative of the SSA around Thanksgiving, who told her he was going to try to reopen Rose's original request for social security that he filed in 2006.

This week, Mednik was contacted again by the same official who said he'd pulled Rose's file, and needs more information on his citizenship in order to re-open his request.

The SSA's file on Rose is relatively bare, Mednik said, and holds only two documents. One is Rose's original entrance visa to the U.S. He was born in England to an American father and Canadian mother, and his family legally immigrated to the U.S. when he was 5. There's also a one paragraph memo from 1963.

The government's denial of Rose's social security seems to hinge on that memo. The letterhead says "United States Government Memorandum." It's dated April 13, 1963, and says Rose "stated he had abandoned his residence in the U.S. and does not plan to live in the U.S. again."

Rose said he never made such a statement and has no idea where the memo came from. It doesn't say who wrote it, or from what agency it originated.

On Tuesday, Mednik sent the SSA six documents that she hopes will be enough to trigger an investigation within the SSA into Rose's case.

Those documents include Rose's original application for an immigration visa and alien registraiton from 1947 when the Rose family moved to the U.S., the immigration visa he was issued at that time and his honorable discharge from the Navy (on which a box is checked that indicates he is a U.S. citizen).

Rose also has his social security statement that shows he's been paying into the program for almost the past 50 years. It also shows that he paid $712 in social security taxes in 1963, the year, according to the government's memo, he is alleged to have renounced his citizenship and moved out of the country.

Now Mednik will have to wait and see what the SSA does next, now that she's provided them all the documentation she has that pertains to Rose's citizenship.

Working on Rose's case from another angle is the office of Minneosta Senator Norm Coleman.

"We are working closely with Mr. Rose and the Social Security Administration and are hopeful that his retirement benefits can be restored," a spokesperson for Coleman's office said.

Coleman has been involved in similar disputes in the past and has brought about positive resolutions, the spokesperson said.

Rose is glad things seem to finally be happening with his case.

"People are starting to pay attention," he said. "The (SSA), right now, their feet are in the fire."