For Immediate Release
Contact: David Card
WASHINGTON – Last night the United States House of Representative passed H.R. 4547, the Strengthening Protections for Social Security Beneficiaries Act, with a 396-0 vote.
“We would like to thank House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee Chairman Sam Johnson and Ranking Member John Larson for spearheading this legislation,” said NDRN Executive Director Curt Decker. “We are grateful for their commitment to protecting people with disabilities from financial exploitation, abuse and neglect.”
H.R. 4547 would increase oversight of the Social Security Administration’s Representative Payee Program. A representative payee is a person who acts as the receiver of Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income for a person who is not fully capable of managing their own benefits.
Unfortunately, government investigations – some of which were conducted by our own Network of Protection and Advocacy (P&A) agencies – have uncovered representative payees who have stolen or misused funds, exploited, neglected and even abused the people with disabilities they were supposed to be helping.
H.R. 4547 specifically authorizes P&A agencies to monitor how representative payees are administering the Social Security funds. P&As could also offer legal advocacy to any individual whose representative payee was found to be mishandling the benefits.
“We believe need for independent oversight of the Representative Payee Program is clear,” continued Decker. “This powerful oversight role will help ensure people with disabilities are protected and have access to advocates if it is found their payees are breaking the law or not acting in the best interests of the beneficiary.”
The bill now goes to the Senate.
“There are almost 8 million people who have representative payees,” said Decker. “It’s imperative that the Senate pass this bill swiftly so we can begin providing needed monitoring and oversight of the program and provide critical assistance to the people who need it.”
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The National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) is the nonprofit membership organization for the federally mandated Protection and Advocacy (P&A) Systems and the Client Assistance Programs (CAP) for individuals with disabilities. Collectively, the Network is the largest provider of legally based advocacy services to people with disabilities in the United States.