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Obama Proposes Not Allowing Gun Sales to Some SSDI and SSI Beneficiaries with Mental Illness

It is an unfortunate reality that mass shootings happen across the United States. These horrible events happen without warning, result in the death or injury to many innocent people and capture the nation’s collective attention. There have been numerous reports of these shootings this year alone, including the incident involving the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church in Charleston, South Carolina and the shootings at two military installations in Tennessee.

gun-1503923Following these events, there is often much debate about whether the federal government should be doing more to prevent guns from falling into the hands of the mentally ill, or, on the other hand, whether the government will use events like this as some type of justification to deprive people of their Second Amendment rights. This is not a debate that will be solved anytime soon, as both camps are very firm in their respective positions.

Following this latest series of mass shootings, the Obama administration is proposing a piece of legislation that would prohibit some recipients of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security income (SSI) benefits from owning guns if they lack the mental capacity to handle their own affairs.   According to a recent news article form The Seattle Times, this ban would mean that, for the millions of Americans receiving disability benefits, and whose benefits are handled by others, they would not be allowed to buy a gun.

As our Boston Social Security disability benefits lawyers can explain, there are many people who suffer from a disability and are greatly in need of benefits. However, many of these people cannot handle their own affairs or even handle applying for benefits and making decisions. For this reason, a court can appoint a conservator for the disabled person, who will be trusted with the responsibility of handling all legal and financial matters, including applying for Social Security disability benefits. This conservator will act in the claimant’s “steed,” as it is called in the law, and receive the monthly disability benefits payments and put them in a trust account to be used for the benefit of the disabled person.

There are millions of these individuals who the United States Social Security Administration (SSA) calls “represented payees.” The new legislation would include these disabled people in the classification of people that must be included in the National Instant Criminal Background Checks System used when a person attempts to purchase a firearm from an authorized dealer.

As one might expect, gun control opponents are taking issue with this proposed law, as they assert, “Someone can be incapable of managing their funds but not be dangerous, violent or unsafe.” As support for their position, they tell the story of a 30-year-old former United States Marine. He said his Humvee was blown up a by an improvised explosive device (IED) in Iraq, and he was left with a brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He also had difficulty with his memory and cognitive ability. He was given a disability rating of 100 percent, and his mother was appointed as his conservator, since he was declared mentally incompetent. He feels that he should still be allowed to own guns because despite his numerous mental health conditions, he is not a danger to the community.

If you are seeking Social Security Disability benefits in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:

Obama goal: no guns for some on Social Security disability, July 19, 2015, The Seattle Times

More Blog Entries:
SSDI Approvals Lowest in Five Years, June 20, 2014, Boston Social Security Disability Lawyers Blog