Social Security: New Bill Would Protect Seniors From Guardianship Fraud

Mature woman helping elderly mother with paperwork.
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For those who prey on vulnerable seniors by acting as their guardians and using them for their money, a new bill was has been proposed that would make the fraud a lot harder to execute

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A state court appoints an individual as a guardian when a senior citizen or person with a disability is unable to manage their own care and/or personal affairs. This guardian is also commonly appointed as a representative payee by the Social Security Administration. This means that the guardian receives and manages the Social Security benefits of the person for whom they have been appointed guardian.

The current system has few safeguards to protect seniors against exploitation by the individual appointed to oversee the senior’s care. Theoretically, a state court could remove a guardian for abuse, fraud and neglect, but that same person could still receive and spend Social Security checks meant for person they were appointed to care for, The Hill reported. Now, a new piece of legislation is being brought forth to help avoid this. 

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The Senior Guardianship Social Security Protection Act would add an extra layer of protection to help avoid fraud and establish a direct line of communication between courts and the SSA. In the event a court has cause to remove a guardian, it would have to notify the SSA so that the SSA could also remove the individual as a representative payee.

Further, the bill mandates the SSA to report to Congress every two years on the number of Social Security payments being delivered to non-family representative payees. Currently, there is no clear understanding of how many payments are being made to guardian payees versus actual seniors, which makes oversight difficult.

Sen. Charlie Crist (D-Fla.) introduced the bill to the House Ways and Means Committee on Jan. 6.

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About the Author

Georgina Tzanetos is a former financial advisor who studied post-industrial capitalist structures at New York University. She has eight years of experience with concentrations in asset management, portfolio management, private client banking, and investment research. Georgina has written for Investopedia and WallStreetMojo. 
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