SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – Two sisters who’ve spent their lives out and in of the foster care system mentioned they obtained Social Safety advantages from San Diego County.
The ladies, now 11 and 13, are suing San Diego County, alleging that the county illegally obtained and used Social Safety survivors advantages “in a fashion that violates each federal and state legal guidelines.”
“It sounds insulting to say they’re stealing cash, however they’re stealing cash,” mentioned legal professional Robert Fellmeth. “They (the county) have already got cash for youngster assist in a separate account, federal and state sourced cash, and they’re caring for the youngsters with that cash. That is totally different cash.”
Robert Fellmeth is Director of the College of San Diego’s Heart for Public Curiosity Regulation and the Institute for Baby Advocacy. He’s a toddler welfare skilled and has commentated on a number of tales through the years for ABC 10News.
Nonetheless, on this function, he is without doubt one of the two youngsters’s attorneys within the lawsuit.
“These are the individuals who pay the system and have the cash (the kid’s mother and father),” mentioned Fellmeth. “There’s a fund and these children must pay $860 per 30 days for 15 months, or about $12,500 or $13,000 every. they’re for that cash. It is their cash. It is a survivor profit. It’s not for the county, it’s for them, and the county takes it.”
In response to the lawsuit, whereas the youngsters have been in foster care and the county acted as their authorized guardian, the county utilized to Social Safety to turn into the kid’s surrogate payee.
The lawsuit says: (ii) an legal professional chargeable for representing the plaintiff’s pursuits, together with the plaintiff’s monetary pursuits; (iii) The choose on this county has a solemn and lawful accountability to make sure the final welfare of the plaintiff on behalf of the mother and father, together with the monetary welfare of the plaintiff. or (iv) an grownup within the lifetime of the plaintiff that federal and state regulation want to appoint slightly than the defendant.”
The lawsuit alleges that the county obtained and spent all or considerably the entire youngsters’s advantages after being appointed, in an quantity described as a “placement payment.”
The lawsuit claims that “even if defendants violate state regulation requiring that federal, state, and counties already present defendants with satisfactory funds for the custody and upkeep of foster youngsters like plaintiffs, and particularly to disburse such advantages in a fashion that It advantages the youngsters.”
Fellmeth mentioned some youngsters in foster care may obtain funding from the federal government.
Some have a incapacity and are eligible for Supplemental Safety Earnings (SSI) or have misplaced a father or mother and are eligible for survivor advantages. That cash is paid by the Social Safety Administration.
The regulation permits the appointment of “consultant payees” to obtain Social Safety profit funds on behalf of eligible beneficiaries underneath “sure prescribed circumstances.” Which means, in response to the lawsuit, as an alternative of the kid in foster care taking the cash, the county steps in to behave as guardian and take it.
“It isn’t honest to lose that cash as a result of they labored for a while in youngster protecting providers. It would not make sense to me,” mentioned Amy, the ladies’ adoptive mom. id of youngsters.
Amy says women want monetary assist for each their present and future wants, pursuits, and aspirations. She says each women are in remedy and plan to proceed psychological well being remedy. Some remedies have prices that aren’t all the time lined.
“If my children wish to attend some kind of school or commerce college, or simply determine to maneuver out on their very own, it may assist with the deposit. That stuff is crucial to setting this youth inhabitants as much as be blissful and wholesome people in society,” mentioned Amy.
A San Diego County spokeswoman mentioned she couldn’t touch upon the lawsuit, however did describe ongoing proceedings.
“The County stopped evaluating survivors advantages as revenue throughout the March 2022 reevaluation interval,” a spokesperson mentioned in an announcement. There are not any modifications to your SSI advantages as a result of SSI restrictions. If the county is the recipient of a survivor’s profit, the county will preserve a reserve account for the youth till the youth turns 18, ends foster care, or has a brand new consultant beneficiary. The advantages are then returned to Social Safety, which sends funds to the present proxy payee and/or youth. For survivor advantages acquired previous to March 2022, the method has not but modified pending clarification from the State.”
A 2021 survey by the Marshall Venture and NPR present in at the least 49 states and Washington, DC, foster care businesses reviewed youngster case information to search out eligible youngsters for advantages and utilized to the Social Safety Administration to turn into monetary brokers.
Fellmeth mentioned a number of states are shifting to undertake insurance policies that don’t permit funds to be refunded.
ABC 10News reporter Adam Racusin requested Fellmeth why the company would not cease taking the cash.
“You recognize I ask that query on a regular basis,” he mentioned. “As a result of they rationalize. They suppose we’re paying for this child, we’re already engaged on this child, and we’re getting extra money from the federal government, so it is ours.”