Safety Net clients turned over to Social Security

PORTLAND -- A Portland nonprofit organization, created to handle benefit money for veterans and disabled citizens, has been forced to shut its doors.

Safety Net is under federal investigation for mismanaging client money. There are close to 1,000 people who receive disability and veterans benefits at Safety Net. Many are disabled, homeless and do not have transportation.

So what will happen to the people who receive benefits at Safety Net? They will have to be assigned a new payee and go to the Social Security Administration offices to get their benefits.

The problem is, many simply don t know.

Locally, organizers have worked hard to make sure these people know about the change, and as a result, do not get their benefits suspended.

Shuttle buses will arrive at the Safety Net offices, at 519 SE Morrison, to take recipients to the Social Security offices. It took filing a class-action lawsuit to make that happen.

Kathey Wilde is the Legal Director of Disability Rights Oregon. She said the task was tough.

Getting treasury to okay all these payments was a Herculean task. This is the biggest one that they have ever done in the country, They've shut down other payees, they haven't had a thousand people affected before, she said.

Earlier this month, federal investigators executed a search warrant on Safety Net. They seized records and files involving financial information of those receiving benefits. They have indicated there is missing money, some estimates put that number at $600,000.

The federal investigation, it is expected to take several months.

If you have family or friends who receive disability or veterans benefits from Safety Net, they will need to be at the Safety Net offices on April 1 to ride the shuttle buses to the Social Security offices to get their benefits and sign up for a new payee.


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