Nearly 1 in 10 American senior citizens are abused or neglected each year, yet only 1 in 14 cases of elder abuse is brought to the attention of authorities, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Administration for Community Living. Elder abuse can mean physical and psychological harm, but it also may manifest through financial exploitation and theft.
To raise awareness of this threat, the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse introduced the first World Elder Abuse Awareness Day 13 years ago. In 2011, the United Nations officially designated June 15 as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. In addition, June is World Elder Abuse Awareness Month. During June, government agencies and organizations promote local and national events to alert communities, seniors, caregivers, and others to the signs of elder abuse, and to stress the importance of understanding, recognizing, and reporting this type of abuse when suspected.
SSA will host a Facebook Live broadcast on Wednesday, June 19, at 7 p.m. Eastern to discuss the detection and prevention of elder abuse. OIG Communications Director Tracy Lynge will talk about ways for people to identify and report suspected elder abuse, as well as explain how people can deal with Social Security impersonation scam phone calls.
SSA OIG is committed to increasing awareness of how to identify and prevent Social Security-related fraud. Often, senior citizens in particular are targeted for Social Security-related scams and financial exploitation, because they are more likely to be receiving Social Security benefits. Also, some rely on others to receive and manage their Social Security benefits, which makes them even more vulnerable. When Social Security beneficiaries are the victims of representative payee fraud and misuse, they may not be able to pay for food, housing, or other critical needs.
The OIG has a Scam Awareness page on its website to inform the public on how to recognize potential schemes and safeguard themselves from identity theft and financial exploitation. SSA also has a Fraud section of its Social Security Matters blog, which has a lot of helpful information, and the Federal Trade Commission now has a webpage specifically targeted to SSA scams.
For more information on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, visit the National Center for Elder Abuse website. Additionally, the Department of Justice offers an abundance of information and resources online through its Elder Justice Initiative. If you suspect elder abuse, call 911 for an emergency. In a non-emergency situation, use the online Elder Care Locator, or you may call 1-800-677-1116 to find your local elder care agency. If you suspect Social Security benefit fraud or misuse, you should report that to the OIG Fraud Hotline.