Benefits payees to face greater scrutiny

June 4, 2012 at 8:26 PM
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PHILADELPHIA, June 4 (UPI) -- The U.S. government will implement tougher screening for payees who receive benefits on behalf of disabled adults, Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., said Monday.

Casey pushed for tougher scrutiny for representative payees following the so-called Tacony dungeon case, in which police discovered four mentally disabled adults locked in a basement as their captors accepted benefits on their behalf, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

One of the alleged captors, Linda Weston, had previously been convicted of starving a man to death. Her trial is scheduled to begin in January, reported.

"This new effort from the Social Security Administration," Casey said in a statement, "is the first step towards ensuring what happened in Tacony never happens again."

In a news conference Monday in Philadelphia, Casey announced a three- to six-month pilot program in which representative payees will undergo background checks. Legislation is also in the works, he added, to include criminal databases as part of the checks.

"You can't have millions of people out there, acting as representative payees, taking other people's resources, and not having been through a robust background check," Casey said at the news conference.

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