The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Aging, Herbert Kohl (D – Wisconsin) has reintroduced a bill designed to protect seniors from being financially victimized by scammers, according to a report from Bloomberg News . If successfully enacted into law, the “Elder Abuse Victims Act” could allow U.S. seniors to seek restitution through a federal “Office of Elder Justice” to resolve a claim of being defrauded. Seniors with stronger nest egg protection could potentially afford more travel opportunities during the active travel years traditionally associated with retirement.
The Bloomberg story said the proposed legislation is based in part on a 2009 study by the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) that found 14% of non-institutionalized senior citizens had experienced some form of elder abuse. The same study found state agencies currently responsible for responding to elderly financial abuse complaints to be seriously inadequate with limited enforcement capability. The Senate Aging Committee also studied a recent survey of more than 2,000 senior citizens by the Washington non-profit firm Investor Protection Trust. It found that 7.3 million Americans, or one out of every five over age 65, said they had been conned by investment scammers. The survey also found 40% of adult Americans are “somewhat” or “very” worried about the ability of their parents to handle personal finances as they grow more elderly. A separate bill is being considered to address elder domestic abuse issues. A previous 2009 bill on elder victim abuse was tabled during the broader national health care debate. But a March 2, 2011 hearing, in which retired actor Mickey Rooney described his own alleged victimization by a financial manager and stepson, helped spark new Senate action. A blog discussing the legislation and other issues of elder financial abuse is found here.