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SSA Helps Disability Recipients Receive Deserved Benefits

Some disabled persons are considered vulnerable adults. Unfortunately, many criminals target those who experience everyday mental and physical challenges. Fortunately, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has recently expanded its Philadelphia-area pilot program to the national level. The program helps prevent criminals from controlling or usurping recipients’ disability benefits on behalf of vulnerable adults.The program began in 2012 in Pennsylvania in response to the “Tacony dungeon case” wherein authorities rescued disabled individuals from a local basement. In that matter, five defendants purportedly held vulnerable individuals in captivity in an effort to collect Social Security benefits owed to the victims. The defendants now face serious federal charges for purportedly perpetuating a scheme to lock up disabled individuals and pocket their Social Security money.

Now, the new program, which has been nationally expanded, utilizes “representative payees,” who assist with the collection process for disabled individuals unable to manage their own benefits. However, persons cannot be a “representative payee” if they have a criminal history involving any of the following offenses:

  • Robbery
  • Kidnapping
  • Sexual assault
  • Human trafficking
  • False imprisonment
  • Identity theft
  • Fraud by scheme
  • Theft of government money or property
  • First-degree homicide
  • Fraud to collect government assistance
  • Abuse or neglect
  • Forgery

Unfortunately, Social Security workers cannot access the FBI’s official criminal database. Instead, the agency must rely on public documents, records and third-party databases that may be unreliable and incomplete. Only official records encompass detailed information.

Even so, the SSA feels as though the pilot has been relatively successful. On the other hand, agency screeners have really only flagged 1 percent of those hoping to be a “representative payee.” Nevertheless, officials will need to monitor the success of the program closely to help ensure it works and that representative payees are solid people, capable of assisting vulnerable, disabled persons.

Disabled persons already have it bad. It is hard enough to live in a world with serious limitations and ongoing challenges. The fact that people actually take advantage of suffering persons is horrifying.

In the meantime, the agency will continue to employ the pilot program in an effort to help beneficiaries secure deserved benefits. If you are interested in applying for Social Security Disability benefits, do not hesitate to speak to a lawyer about your issues. A legal professional can help aid you as you face mental or physical challenges.

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