Financial Exploitation of the Disabled Children and Adults: Why the Payee Program Involving Families Needs a Makeover

12-year-old Eva is blind, all from a birth defect caused by her mother’s illness classified as measles. Eva is entitled to a full amount of benefits as denoted by a family with low income. Eva wants to be able to talk to friends online, write papers for school, and later on, she wants a guide dog. Her parents show her the values of coins, and later on, they discuss a budget with her. At sixteen, Eva says she wants to go on a girls’ night with friends. Her parents, mainly her father, who is the representative payee on her SSI check, puts aside $300 for Eva so she can both pay for some community college courses and buy what she wants or needs.
22-year-old Nicholas has mild cerebral palsy (CP), is blind, and is frequently slow at doing stuff. Nicholas’s mother is the payee for his full amount of SSI, yet she fails to keep record of how she’s using the check. Nicholas is certain that the parent in this case, mainly the mother, has been using the check to buy pills such as X and sometimes heroin. Nicholas wants to attend college, but his mother, after being questioned by police, lied about Nicholas’s cognitive abilities, something he never had. His speech is almost slurry and hard to discern due to CP, and being blind, he needs the use of a typing mechanism such as a computer, but his mother would rather he stay with her so she can continue her drug addiction. Something is clearly wrong.
30-year-old Ashley is cognitively impaired, so she is unaware of what her mother has done to her. She has a full amount of SSI, but her family continuously sexually abuses her. While they are supposedly using the check for Ashley’s “needs”, they are really buying wants with it. The wants are for themselves. The family have become Ashley’s guardians, have stolen the check from her from year to year since her eighteenth birthday. In spite of cognitive impairment, Ashley wants a small job as a horse groomer. She longs to leave the family, but they continue to threaten and abuse her. Worse, they have been busted for identity theft in the first degree.
What do these vignettes have in common?
All of them have something to do with the disabled being financially exploited or the money is managed at some level. We meet Eva at the beginning of this post. Eva’s mom is responsible and so is her dad. It is every parent’s duty, whether your child is disabled or not, to allow the child to learn how to manage their own money and affairs. Guardianship should never justify the other two scenarios. How many of you disabled people can relate to the other two vignettes? I’m sure some of you advocates see a lot of Ashleys out there. Nicholas is most like my dear Kahili, who recently received a call from his grandmother, Kayla (name has been changed to protect privacy.) Kahili’s grandmother tried to guilt trip Kahili into letting Amadi keep his check. His own mother does not have any clue that the check is his upon his eighteenth birthday.
So what is the role of a payee? A payee is someone who benefits the beneficiary. Well, Amadi is not doing much benefiting if she keeps the check even after he reports moving to his girlfriend’s address. Stupid as it is, the girlfriend is helping him out. The girlfriend’s bank account is empty. That girlfriend is me.
So what has this unfair system of manipulation done to him? Kahili faces a tough battle, but I’m willing to advocate for him. I’m advocating for a total makeover to the way people handle the duties associated with a payee.
First, let’s look at the duties of a payee. According to the Social Security Administration, one must have a cognitive disability or inability to manage money. Personally, I’m bad with math, but if given a bit of guidance, I can get the right numbers. Sadly, I had to report Kahili as a member of my household on the Colorado Peak website, which by the way, for you Denver folks, it’s accessible as hell. It’s amazing, just pick the correct check marks. That’s all. Kahili and I will likely share food stamps. Who cares if I lose or gain, so long as Kahili and I are able to eat. We have to eat, just eat our food and eat we will. I’m also advocating possibly for Kayla to get some help because she’s been diagnosed with dementia and is easily swayed and manipulated. I should have easily spotted that, but I eventually did. I tried it all, tried saying that it’s not about the mom anymore.
Sadly, this scenario plays out with families all over the nation. With our economy going down, we are pulling the most vulnerable persons into economic slavery. With Kahili’s situation, there is too much strife as done by his mother. The mother will likely go homeless, but oh well, you know one might say that karma’s a bitch. Karma is a real bitch. There’s an old phrase, it’s your bed, you lay in it. We, meaning Kahili and I, will likely have to charge Amadi with social security fraud or warn her that she can no longer receive the check. In that case, if she does, she will be charged by the Feds or the State with social security fraud. What worries me is that she might go further and steal someone’s credit card, and that’s how desperate she is. She could swipe my card, so Kahili and I planned some things out, and we agreed not to let her touch any financial stuff, including bank records or bank statements. She is not allowed to help Kahili or myself with bank crap. She cannot have my banknote identifier, my pride and joy honestly when it comes to managing the value of U.S. currency. Kahili will sign up for a bank identifier. When that is done, we will keep a safe in our living room. I have two locker locks, including a gun lock. Don’t ask me how, but I signed a gun safety pledge just to get that free lock. Anything for free stuff, right?
So Kahili and I will also be taking other safety precautions. With Amadi in the house, we will not be reciting credit card info or allowing any bank site to be in view of her. All bank notes and cards will be stowed away so she can’t get to them. Each of us will have a key hidden somewhere in a panty drawer or something.
Disabled people are often unaware that they’re being used as ATM cards to give parents the upper hand and pay for the parents’ wants. This must stop. How can we do this ourselves?
1. We must approach this as a crime. Any parent who wrongfully and willfully exploits a disabled person based upon a perceived lack of capacity to manage money should be charged with SSI social security fraud and identity theft first degree. They must spend a year or more depending on the class and degree of the crime committed. Amadi should never get away with this.
2. The persons in this case should never be allowed to be payees for adults with disabilities.
3. Treat your children just like any other child, and give them the tools and skills of blindness for God’s sake, not the rigors of being sheltered.
4. Do not exploit your child’s disability for your personal gain. No way no how.

Author: denverqueen

My name is Beth. I'm blind from birth and enjoy the blogging atmosphere. I am a creative person, a musician, a writer, etc. This is me. Take it or leave it.

3 thoughts on “Financial Exploitation of the Disabled Children and Adults: Why the Payee Program Involving Families Needs a Makeover”

  1. one piece of advice I might want to give you. if you ever do talk about a saif, you might not want to keep it in the living room you may want to hide it somewhere where only you know where it is but keep its whereabouts secret. Also people aren’t to know about it it would put you at risk of being robbed and too many people knowing about it means trouble so only you and somebody you trust implicitly know about it.

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    1. no problem beth I was actually curious whether you are with Trenton or whether kahilli is a totally different person I know I shouldn’t be asking here but anyway I have now but it’s more a general question. I do thank goodness my parents are supportive and will give me money should I need it so I’m lucky.

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