According to a study released by the American Journal of Public Health in 2010, approximately five million elderly Americans are victims of abuse. This exceeds the number of domestic violence and child abuse victims combined. Social Security beneficiaries are included in the millions who suffer sometimes physical, emotional, and financial abuse, as well as neglect of basic care and medical needs.
Statistics also indicate that most reported cases involve family members or people closely related to the victims. Many elder abuse victims suffer from decreased cognitive capacity, such as dementia, and are not able to protect themselves. Adult protective services operate under state law to investigate reports of elder abuse and to work with the victims to protect them and stop the maltreatment.
It is important that adult protective services agencies in every community have a close working relationship with Social Security to:
- Remove abusive representative payees;
- Prevent unsuitable representative payees from being put in place or being re-instated, and;
- Appoint appropriate representative payees who will protect the victim’s benefits.
Social Security is with you through life’s journey. The agency takes this commitment seriously. Under Acting Commissioner Carolyn Colvin and Chief of Staff Stacy Rodgers, Social Security has made great strides in a short time to protect beneficiaries from financial exploitation and to coordinate with adult protective services agencies on behalf of our mutual clients. You can help too by visiting the Administration for Community Living and www.ncea.aoa.gov for more information on how you can be involved.