Stopping stimulus-related elder financial abuse

Every elder deserves to be treated with respect and honesty, but unfortunately, that does not always happen. Far too often, a caregiver, medical professional or even a family member will exploit their position or relationship to commit elder financial abuse.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created new opportunities for this type of misconduct. According to news sources, there have been waves of financial abuse involving the government-issued $600 stimulus checks.

Person, not place

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently urged those who have a loved one in a nursing home or assisted living facility to be aware that the stimulus “money is meant for the PERSON, not the place they might live.” The FTC says it’s aware that “some nursing facilities tried to take the stimulus payments intended for their residents.” The agency pointedly says it’s not legal for the facilities to do so.

Another round expected

It should be noted that negotiations are underway in Congress for another round of stimulus checks. It’s widely expected that this third round will include $1,400 checks, though the measure has not been finalized.

FTC Elder Justice Coordinator Lois C. Greisman wrote in a statement that she hopes facilities that tried to commandeer the checks now understand that the funds belong to the resident and no one else. “But, just in case, let’s be clear,” she writes, “ . . . If a loved one qualifies and lives in a nursing home or assisted living facility, it’s theirs to keep. The facility may not put their hands on it, or require somebody to sign it over to them. Even if that somebody is on Medicaid.”

If you suspect a violation, she urges people to first make sure management understands the rules. You can also report violations to the California Attorney General and then the FTC.