Crook holds mentally handicapped adults captive for SSI checks

Residents in Portland and across the country were shocked by the news that emerged this week of mentally handicapped individuals being held in dungeon-like conditions in a Philadelphia basement. Authorities say that a 51-year-old woman captured the mentally handicapped and disabled individuals and held them hostage in order to collect their disability benefits checks. Authorities found a mentally handicapped man chained to one of the basement boilers, a disabled woman who had her teeth beat out, and two malnourished children.

Although most of the Social Security Disability topics covered on this blog relate to serious injuries and conditions that develop during the course of one’s career, benefits are also available to those who were born disabled. Those who have worked and paid Social Security taxes typically collect Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, whereas people who were always too disabled to work usually collect Supplemental Security Income. An experienced Portland Social Security attorney can help clients obtain either type of benefits if they qualify.

The individuals involved in the Philadelphia dungeon case appear to have suffered from disabilities that qualified them for SSI benefits. Those who are permanently disabled typically receive their SSI benefits through a caretaker, which is why the woman was able to collect these individuals’ benefits.

It should be noted that cases such as the Philadelphia dungeon case are extremely rare and most SSI beneficiaries do not suffer similar types of abuse. SSI beneficiaries are typically cared for my a loving family member or group home that uses the SSI benefits to help pay for the care of the disabled individual.

Source:, “Exclusive: Family recalls living with ‘dungeon’ suspect,” Oct. 20, 2011

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