US Senate unveils bill to prevent cases like the Pennsylvania basement captives

Legislation was unveiled Monday to close a Social Security loophole that enabled a woman to collect government assistance checks that belonged to a mentally disabled person locked in a squalid basement for years, reports the Washington Post.

The bill would allow Social Security Administration (SSA) access to existing government databases that identify violent criminals ineligible to serve as representative payees. It would also increase the number of SSA fraud investigators so that anyone applying to be a representative payee would undergo a criminal background check.

“The horrors that took place … are deeply troubling, and we must do everything we can to ensure this never, ever happens again,” Senator Bob Casey said at a news conference with Philadelphia police. “This legislation will ensure that the Social Security Administration has the resources and the tools it needs to stop another situation like this in its tracks.”

The woman had been convicted and served prison time in the starvation death of a man nearly three decades ago. Such a criminal past would have legally disqualified her from cashing the victims’ government disability checks.

Set to be introduced by year’s end, the bill will finally give the SSA the tools and resources required to perform a criminal background check on every person who applies to serve as a representative payee, Casey said.

Do you think this bill will help resolve cases such as the Pennsylvania basement captives?

If you need help with your Social Security Disability benefits, contact the Social Security Disability lawyers at Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin.

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