March 25th, 2014 | by KATE WILLSON News | Posted In: PDX News, Health, Housing, Cops and Courts, Activism

Disabled Portlanders File Suit to Keep Social Security Benefits

safetynetkatuSafety Net of Oregon - KATU

Disabled Portlanders filed suit yesterday on behalf of about 700 recipients of Social Security benefits who fear their funds will be cut off when Safety Net of Oregon loses its federal qualification to manage their accounts on April 1, Street Roots News reported today.

Kathy Wilde, the legal director for Disability Rights Oregon, one of the advocacy organizations supporting the lawsuit, says people served by Safety Net must sign up with another provider to handle their Social Security benefits. She says many could be evicted or lose bus passes and allowances for food and medication if they don't know Safety Net is closing its doors. 

About 300 clients have found other providers, but officials haven't been able to reach another 700 clients, Wilde said. 

“Many of these people are homeless, or on the verge of homelessness, and most rely on these benefits for all, or almost all, of their income,” the lawsuit reads.

The plaintiffs filed their lawsuit against the Social Security Administration in U.S. District Court in Portland, in an effort to prevent the agency from stopping payments to Safety Net clients.

Federal investigators seized computers and records from the Portland non-profit earlier this month after concerns mounted about how executives were handling its books.

As reported on wweek.com, search warrant records say Safety Net CEO Linda Stelling told investigators that the non-profit's computers had suffered a “software” problem, resulting in what appeared to be a $600,000 gap. But she assured investigators the money was all there.

 
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