Congressman Vern Buchanan

Representing the 16th District of Florida

Buchanan Co-Chairs Hearing on Social Security Fraud

Feb 7, 2017
Press Release
Florida Case Exposes Ugly Side of Financial Guardians

WASHINGTON — Congressman Vern Buchanan today co-chaired a congressional hearing on protecting Social Security recipients from fraud by their financial guardians.


Buchanan (center) talks with Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., before the hearing

 The hearing focused on financial guardians, also known as “representative payees” who control the Social Security benefits of a person deemed unable to manage their finances.

The Congressman spoke about the case of an elderly Polk County, Fla. woman whose daughter, as the court-appointed guardian, stole more than $40,000 from her own mother.

The hearing, which included witnesses from the Social Security Administration and academia, explored methods for protecting seniors against this type of financial abuse.

Buchanan, whose congressional district has nearly 225,000 Social Security recipients, is an active proponent of legislation to protect seniors.

There are clear problems with the SSA’s process for determining which seniors need representative payees.

For example, only 9 percent of eligible people with dementia have a representative payee – which means that 91 percent do not have a financial representative according to a 2016 Boston College study.

“It is our responsibility to stay vigilant,” Buchanan said at the hearing. “Challenges are unfortunately visible in my home state of Florida.”

Buchanan, whose congressional district has nearly 225,000 Social Security recipients, is an active proponent of legislation to protect seniors.

Nearly one in five Americans over the age of 65 have “been taken advantage of financially in terms of an inappropriate investment, unreasonably high fees for financial services, or outright fraud,” according to a recent survey from the Investor Protection Trust.

Buchanan is the co-author of the Seniors Fraud Prevention Act, bipartisan legislation he introduced to help crack down on scams targeting seniors.

The bill directs the Federal Trade Commission to create a senior fraud group that would alert consumers about scams, maintain online resources and create an effective complaint system to ensure that reports of fraud are quickly forwarded to the appropriate law enforcement agency.

Buchanan is a senior member of the House Ways and Means committee. He serves as the chair of the Oversight subcommittee, which held today’s joint hearing with the Social Security subcommittee.

Witnesses that testified at today’s hearing included:

-          Marianna LaCanfora, acting deputy commissioner of the Social Security Administration.

-          Dr. Paul Appelbaum, professor of psychiatry, medicine and law at Columbia University.

-          Gale Stone, acting inspector general of the Social Security Administration.

-          Lindsay Nichols, senior attorney for Americans for Responsible Solutions.