Disability Rights Ohio to oversee new federal program to protect beneficiaries of Social Security Disability benefits

March 23, 2018 / Social Security

Legislation passed today by the U.S. Senate will increase oversight and protection for some of our nation’s most vulnerable citizens, including 314,949 Ohioans. The bill, called the Strengthening Protections for Social Security Beneficiaries Act (H.R. 4547), will increase independent 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, multiple investigations 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 the nation’s Protection and Advocacy (P&A) system to monitor and investigate how representative payees are administering Social Security funds. P&As are federally mandated organizations that provide legal and other advocacy services to people with disabilities in every U.S. state and territory. In Ohio, the program will be run by Disability Rights Ohio, the state’s P&A.

“This is great news for people with disabilities in Ohio,” says Disability Rights Ohio Executive Director Michael Kirkman. “The new program, the first new P&A program since 2003, will allow us to access thousands of individuals in varied settings. It will broadly expand our monitoring of facilities while closely complementing the important work DRO does to investigage abuse, neglect, and exploitation of people with disabilities.”

The House of Representative approved the bill unanimously in February. It now goes to the White House where President Trump is expected to sign it into law.

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