Lawmakers Call For Increased Scrutiny Of Disability Payments
Following reports of abuse, 14 members of Congress are seeking an investigation into Social Security’s oversight of those who manage benefits on behalf of some people with disabilities.
The Social Security Administration routinely appoints so-called “representative payees” to handle benefits for individuals who are deemed incapable of overseeing their own finances due to age or disability. In some cases, representative payees are parents or other family members, while in other instances friends or organizations are tasked with assisting beneficiaries.
But in a letter sent late last week to the Government Accountability Office, the lawmakers said they are concerned about the current system after learning of a recent case in Philadelphia where a representative payee was found to be keeping four individuals with disabilities locked in a boiler room.
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“Despite requirements in the law and regulations… the SSA’s oversight of representative payees remains a clear challenge,” wrote Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Texas, and 13 other Republican members of the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee.
The group is asking GAO to assess the effectiveness of the representative payee program and to offer up other options for managing benefits for those who require assistance.
According to the lawmakers’ letter, there are approximately 5.6 million representative payees across the country this year handling about $61 million in Social Security and Supplemental Security Income benefits for 7.6 million people.