May 1, 2017

Rep Payee Problem In Iowa

      From the Des Moines Register:
Not long after he moved back to Des Moines in 2015, Dustin Driskell began using a nonprofit downtown called Social Equality to handle his disability money. 
Driskell, 36, was adopted as an infant out of foster care. His mother committed suicide when he was 5; his father died suddenly when he was 11. For several years, he was bumped around between foster homes and shelters. He’s got a laundry list of mental health diagnoses requiring a cocktail of medications. 
Driskell needs help handling money because he’s been preyed upon by those who would take what little he has. 
Yet he struggled to get Phong Heu, the owner of Social Equality, to pay his bills on time or give him money when he needed it to buy groceries and other necessities. 
“Dustin slept on his apartment bedroom floor for several months because the payee wouldn’t give him the money to buy a bed,” his sister Deanna Hepworth wrote Watchdog. ... 
With the help of a staff member from Optimae Lifeservices in the East Village, Driskell filed a complaint last fall with Social Security against Social Equality. 
And then, in October, the payee service at 699 Walnut St. abruptly closed its doors. Driskell’s payments were suspended for a spell, and he was told Social Equality was under investigation. For a time, he got emergency payments, and then those, too, faltered. ... 
Driskell and Hepworth learned about the Social Equality investigation after his payments didn’t arrive last November. 
But in that case, Social Security workers set up emergency funds for Dustin and others after regular payments were suspended. 
Payments arrived in January, February and March. But last month, payments were suspended again. They were delayed again this month until, after three calls and two visits by Hepworth to the Social Security office, they were restarted. 
The delays have meant that Driskell has had no money at times, or he borrows it from his grandmother, Optimae and Iowa’s Department of Human Services to pay for rent and groceries. ...
     By the way, this otherwise fine article includes a weird detour into the Conn case. I didn't include it above. Mentioning the Conn case makes no sense in the article. I can't imagine why the reporter included it or the editor allowed it in.


Anonymous said...

The whole thing is crazy anyway. Payees are frequently a problem. When the payee agency wasn't paying the bills correctly, it was time to get a different payee. Once I was able to talk a social worker with DHS to be a payee, and that worked out well but exhausted her, and she wasn't willing to do that again.
I don't see the point of this story, especially if it included something about Conn.

Tim said...

Journalism is officially dead! If you don't know the difference between a rep payee ("helps" recipients control their benefits) and a rep (lawyer), then inform yourself (heard of 'google?') instead of demonstrating your ignorance and poor writing skills. And they wonder why people don't buy newspapers anymore...