we Representative Charlie CristD-Fla., continued to focus on trusteeship issues this week, again partnering with the United States Representative Nancy MaceR-SC, on the “Guardianship of the Elderly Welfare Protection Actwhich “orders state courts to notify the Social Security Administration (SSA) when a court-appointed guardian is removed for cause, in order to prevent him or her from collecting Social Security benefits in the name of the person he abused”.
Crist’s office released some of the details of the proposal this week.
“This legislation was introduced following investigative reports revealing unscrupulous guardians draining the assets of elderly people in their care. The bill contains a new provision that would require the Social Security Administration to report to Congress on the number of Social Security payments that are diverted to non-family members as representative beneficiaries to help determine the number of Americans under guardianship – a currently unknown statistic,” said noted Crist’s office.
“If a guardian or conservator commits fraud or abuse against an elderly or disabled person, they should not be able to continue to collect those Social Security benefits,” Crist said. “Unfortunately, under the current system, Social Security and the state courts that oversee guardianships and conservatories don’t talk to each other. Our bill would put everyone on the same page. That way , when a court finds that someone used guardianship to abuse an older person, the abuser will not be able to continue collecting the older person’s Social Security. FREE act and the Guardians are not above the law on prosecutionThe Social Security Protection of Guardianship of the Elderly Act is another common-sense measure to protect the elderly from unnecessary and abusive guardianship.
In November, Crist introduced the Guardians Aren’t Above Prosecution (GAAP) Act, saying it “fills a gap in the guardianship prosecution system by clarifying that those who are appointed as guardian or custodian are still subject to criminal sanctions for abusive or fraudulent behavior”.
The congressman’s office insisted there weren’t enough legal protections for Americans with guardians.
“This legislation highlights the lack of common legal action taken against bad actors who abuse and defraud vulnerable people under guardianship or conservatorship, and stimulates prosecutions against these bad actors,” noted the Christ’s office.
Crist’s bill has the support of lawyers working with Britney Spears in the #FreeBritney effort and the Center for Estate Administration Reform (CEAR).
Last month, Mace announced she would be the lead Republican co-sponsor of that bill.
Crist has worked with the United States Representative Darren SotoD-Fla., On the “Guardianship Liability Act”.
Soto introduced the bill in October with Crist and US Representative Gus BilirakisR-Fla., and Brian FitzpatrickR-Penn., as co-sponsors.
The bill “supports the approximately 1.3 million adults, primarily older adults and people with disabilities, who are currently in the care of guardians by adopting safeguards against risk of abuse or neglect” and “puts implement additional monitoring and adopt data collection measures to hold guardians accountable in response to reports of increasing cases of fraud and financial exploitation by guardians of vulnerable populations.