Social security: a new bill would protect the elderly from guardianship fraud

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For those who prey on vulnerable elderly people by acting as guardians and using them for their money, a new bill has been proposed that would make fraud much harder to execute.

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A state court appoints a person as guardian when an elderly or disabled person is unable to manage their own care and/or personal affairs. This guardian is also commonly designated as a representative beneficiary by the Social Security Administration. This means that the guardian receives and manages the social security benefits of the person for whom he has been appointed guardian.

The current system offers few safeguards to protect older people from exploitation by the person appointed to oversee the care of the older person. Theoretically, a state court could revoke a guardian for abuse, fraud, and negligence, but that same person could still receive and spend Social Security checks meant for the person they were assigned to care for, The Hill reported. . Now a new bill is being introduced to help prevent that.

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The Senior Guardianship Social Security Protection Act would add an extra layer of protection to help prevent fraud and establish a direct line of communication between the courts and the SSA. In the event that a court has reason to remove a guardian, it must notify the SSA so that the SSA can also remove the person as a representative beneficiary.

In addition, the bill requires the SSA to report to Congress every two years on the number of Social Security payments made to non-family beneficiaries. Currently, there is no clear understanding of the number of payments made to beneficiary guardians versus actual seniors, making monitoring difficult.

Sen. Charlie Crist (D-Florida) 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 banking and investment research. Georgina has written for Investopedia and WallStreetMojo.

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