A retired pilot has explained to RTÉ's Drivetime how he was wrongly assumed dead by the State - twice.

"I was upset, then I thought it was funny. I was thinking of changing my name to Lazarus."

Mike Mahon, from Wicklow said he was 76 years old when he broke his hip last year and spent several months in hospital and a nursing home before returning to his Wicklow home in May.

Mr Mahon said the mix-up has had a significant financial impact on his pension.

He said he checked his bank account in September and was surprised to see his State pension had stopped after his release from the nursing home. 

He said the Department of Social Protection told him that they had received a letter from the HSE saying he was no longer in receipt of care and the incorrect assumption was that he must have died.

Mr Mahon said the officials "assumed I had expired". 

"After numerous phone calls and letters to prove my existence ... they restored my pension and back-money. 

"I had to persuade them that I was alive.

"They must have had the notion that no one leaves a nursing home except in a coffin but of course that's not always the case." he said.

But then, on a Saturday shortly before Christmas he checked his online bank account and was shocked to see that several thousand had been withdrawn without explanation. 

He said the weekend bank staff could not explain it so he wondered for 48 hours if he might have been scammed. 

Mr Mahon said he made contact with the bank's bereavement section and they said that his State pension of several thousand had been withdrawn from his account by the department, which meant that for a second time in three months he had to prove he "was indeed alive and well". 

Contacting the Department of Social Protection for a second time, he said they apologised and restored all of the money to his account.

Mr Mahon said he has since received a letter of apology from the Department, but he said it "should never have happened".

He is encouraging other people who spend time in nursing homes, or their relatives, to check that their pension is being paid properly.