Most venue owners across the U.S. have been in hibernation through the COVID-19 lockdown period, and now a glitch in the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) application system has lead the Social Security Administration to wrongfully declare them dead.
The grant portal for venue owners saw 13,000 people apply, requesting a sum of $11 billion collectively. Due to the glitch, however, many of those venue owners currently cannot receive their grants. Washington-based dueling piano bar Bobby McKey‘s owner Bob Hansan told the New York Times that he received an email from the Social Security Administration stating: “Your name appears on the Do Not Pay list with the Match Source DMF (Death Master File).”
With the error in the Death Master File system, those declared “dead” are consequently ineligible for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant.
“What do I do? What kind of proof do they need?” asked Michael Swier, founder of New York venues Bowery Ballroom and The Mercury Lounge. “Can I say over the phone, ‘It’s me?'”
Those eligible for the grant can qualify for funds up to 45 percent of their gross earned revenue. $10 million is the maximum grant that can be awarded to any venue under the SVOG, but those incorrectly deemed “dead” by the Social Security Administration now face even more road blocks on the path to financial relief after COVID-19.