Disability, Frauds & Scams

Teaming Up to Prevent Elder Abuse

June 13, 2016 • By

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Last Updated: August 19, 2021

elder abuse awarenessElder abuse is an epidemic. Unfortunately, statistics show that the number of older Americans physically, mentally and financially exploited is rising.

According to a study released by the American Journal of Public Health in 2010, approximately five million elderly Americans are victims of abuse. This exceeds the number of domestic violence and child abuse victims combined. Social Security beneficiaries are included in the millions who suffer sometimes physical, emotional, and financial abuse, as well as neglect of basic care and medical needs.

Statistics also indicate that most reported cases involve family members or people closely related to the victims. Many elder abuse victims suffer from decreased cognitive capacity, such as dementia, and are not able to protect themselves. Adult protective services operate under state law to investigate reports of elder abuse and to work with the victims to protect them and stop the maltreatment.

It is important that adult protective services agencies in every community have a close working relationship with Social Security to:

  • Remove abusive representative payees;
  • Prevent unsuitable representative payees from being put in place or being re-instated, and;
  • Appoint appropriate representative payees who will protect the victim’s benefits.

Social Security is with you through life’s journey. The agency takes this commitment seriously. Under Acting Commissioner Carolyn Colvin and Chief of Staff Stacy Rodgers, Social Security has made great strides in a short time to protect beneficiaries from financial exploitation and to coordinate with adult protective services agencies on behalf of our mutual clients. You can help too by visiting the Administration for Community Living and www.ncea.aoa.gov for more information on how you can be involved.

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About the Author

Kathleen M Quinn, Executive Director, National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA)

Kathleen M Quinn, Executive Director, National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA)


  1. Patrick K.

    I am 73, disabled, live alone in Thailand but I’m a US citizen by birth, retired in Thailand with a guy ….my “BROTHER IN CHRIST” he calls himself, managing and controlling my Soc. Sec. Benefits AND property in the states …..he ripped me off good. Stole everything he could get his hands on ….thus in the past 7 months, I have sent out 11 very expensive registered letters telling of this creep diverting and cutting off my access to my Soc. Sec, Benefits and leaving me for dead without my own money for food and medical to the Soc, Sec, Adm Inspector General’s Office and not one reply ….damnit why don’t you people stop the fraud when we elders tell you about it???? That’s my money this monster embezzled …the lights are on at S.S. Adm but no one is home!

  2. Herbert T.

    I have report Financial Elder Abuse to the local Social Services and they don’t seem to agree or find any issues even when I provided them Banking Statements showing charges made to my Mother’s account for services she does not have. My sister is her Financial POA and I have no doubt she is Financially abusing my Mother’s Social Security funds. Should I take this issue to the local Social Security office? Do they investigate these types or issues or send it to Social Services for review? Thank you and help / guidance you can give me.

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Herbert, thank you for using our blog. If your sister is your mother’s representative payee, then she is required to keep records of all payments received and how they are spent or saved. Usually, Social Security will send a “Representative Payee Accounting Report” once a year.

      If you think your sister is misusing your mother’s benefits, tell Social Security right away. We will investigate all allegations of misuse, gather facts and evidence, and make a decision on whether misuse has occurred. You will receive a letter from Social Security telling you what we found. If we find misuse, Social Security may name a new representative payee for you or send the benefits to you directly. We will then take action to recover the misused money.

      If your mother does not have a representative payee, it may benefit her to have one appointed. Go to our Representative Payee web page for additional details.
      Please call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. to speak to one of our representatives or you can contact your local Social Security office.

  3. Cheryl S.

    Okay. I’m writing here because it will take a short time (about an hour and 20 minutes, so says the annoying voice on the tape) and I do not have the time to wait. I know that SS doesn’t call people, but i got about 7 calls today from a scam company that said, in short, that there were certain claims against my SS# and that they could help me before I was arrested. I know that this is a lot of bull, but I AM SURE THAT THERE ARE PEOPLE OUT THERE WHO DO NOT KNOW THIS. THE VOICE ON THE LINE INTRODUCED HIMSELF AS A POLICE OFFICER. They gave a number to call for help. This is the number:1-419-405-1856. I intend to call the no call line for which I signed up years ago and which seems to have died on the vine. I feel, however that you folks at SS are probably better able to handle these scamming creeps so I wanted to let you know. It is also a pain to call you as one has to deal with that moronic tape of yours and a wait time that is nothing short of ridiculous. Okay, that’s it. Hope you can deal with these cruds. Have a happy holiday.

  4. Victor W.

    My name is Victor Wilfong. My Mom Judie Wilfong receives Social Security and a young lady that’s been helping take care of her , We have now found out she HAS possession of my Mom’s as card and mg Mom’s bills are not being paid, LIGHTS turned off ETC, My mom had 2 strokes and Dementia. This lady is robbing my Mom. I am my Mom’s only child. I m 45 years of age , My Mom is 70. Please help or advise me where I can get help. She is being abused all the way around.

    • Ray F.

      Hello Victor, if you suspect misuse of Social Security benefits, report it. Please call 1-800-772-1213 Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. to speak to one of our representatives. Or, you can contact your local Social Security office. Thanks!

  5. Chelsea

    There is clearly a bunch to know about this. I suppose you made various good points in features also.


  6. Rochelle A.

    I can not believe that the SSA would actually use a pseudonym “Uncle Buck Ofama” on their website to answer a question about elder abuse. I feel that is inappropriate.

    • Ray F.

      Hello Rochelle. Please be aware that our official agency responses will always include the Social Security Administration (SSA) seal. Thank you for your support and for using our blog.

      • Elcho

        I really think that Rochelle needs to re- read that article again.
        You are alright Sir,
        Thank for your info.

  7. SandraLee

    I think that a law should be passed that requires cameras in a residents room in nursing homes, assisted living places, etc in any facility where older persons are involved. Also cameras in the hallways and other common areas where they navigate and are cared for, even in shower areas! However not in private or public bathrooms in such facilities obviously. The cameras should be monitored by private companies not government related and not profit driven however there should be a type of payment for every violation caught on camera resulting in investigation confirmation and criminal charges against the person or persons involved. The payment should be made by the facility itself with part of it going to the resident as compensation for having been a victim and the remaining payment to the monitoring company. In addition the company should pay a certain percentage to the person who caught the violation, sort of a reward fee as you will, for catching and reporting a violation as an incentive for that employee to continue working for a long time you want to keep good quality employees who have a genuine concern and passion for such a program.
    Anyway there is a lot more to such an idea as this and a lot of things to issue out but wouldnt this be a good place to start? My mother died in a nursing care home just a couple of weeks before she was to come home by an accidental overdose of medication then it was covered up by the staff leaving no proof what really happened the only reason I know is from the nurse who called me and admitted what happened before realizing what she was saying. I have no way to undo this injustice for my mother but I can try and do something in her name to prevent further mistakes happening to others. These people worked hard all their lives so other people could have a better life and they should get the quality of life for themselves for once they earned it and deserve it dont you think?

  8. Gerard H.

    I feel the worst abuse of the elderly is from doctors and the medical profession. You cant be treated for an illness if they wont diagnose. They wont give you drugs if they can find a way not to. They wont treat the elderly by claiming they are too old. They act like they never heard of your symptoms They say it is so unknown they will have to name the symptom after you. They tell you to keep an eye on that lump and if it starts to pain or other symptoms arise let them know but by then it is usually too late. Now they don’t want to give you certain drugs if you choose to use medical cannabis. If you ever smoked it goes right into your re cord as COPD and that limits your types of drugs evn if you have no breathing problems. They use different criteria in different locales if they have too many elderly. They don’t have highly trained doctors for PCP only for the actual surgeons in the emergency room and operating rooms. They wont use approved drugs to help diagnose a symptom when you are aged.

  9. Sheridan L.

    I need protection and please don’t advise me to call the cops. Those John Wayne cowboys are part of the problem. They have take the side of the culprit, who very obvious psychotic. I need a restraining order as well as a court order against the cops. The 62 yr old culprit has been continually harassing this 90 yr old World War II Marine Corps vet and cancer survivor for a year. He began the day I moved in shouting and shoving the movers causing them to drop a box of book. I need a restraining order and a court order for criminal intent but no one will help. The lawyers at Legal Aid won’t. The police finally gave me my police report but it was censored. All the significant data was blocked out.

  10. Bruce F.

    Great advice. Elder Abuse is such a problem.

    • rahel

      I just clicked on the above http://……….
      It is a website for a law firm in TX. WHY would you do that, Bruce? Yes, elder abuse is a serious problem, but we don’t need “shark” lawyers to charge us and/or families to protect us. The Elder Ombudsman w/the State Attorney General’s is supposed to do that! That site is a “click and pay” site. DON’T go there!!

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