Gun Control Debate Has Potentially Far Reaching Implications for Social Security Beneficiaries

Posted December 4, 2015 by Premier Disability Services, LLC® Over the past six months, a heated debate has raged on over President Barack Obama’s push to extend gun control laws to certain recipients of Social Security Disability benefits. The LA Times published an interesting article regarding this push on July 18, 2015. According to this article, the Obama Administration is, “seeking to bring the Social Security Administration in line with laws regulating who gets reported to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.” More specifically, there is believed to be a pocket of Social Security Disability beneficiaries who are unable to manage their affairs due to “marked subnormal intelligence, mental illness, incompetency, condition, or disease.” Since this group is not easy to immediately identify, the targeted group would be anyone who has a representative payee receive the benefits on his or her behalf. A representative payee is a person or organization appointed by the Social Security Administration for anyone who cannot manage or direct the management of his or her benefits.

The motive behind this push is the Obama Administration’s efforts to strengthen gun laws following the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012. While the motives seem reasonable on their face, the broad nature of this regulation has made people on both sides of this debate uncomfortable. Critics have argued that this would penalize for financial incompetence rather than a dangerous mental incapacity. Critics have also argued that a person may be unable to manage their financial affairs for various reasons, but they still do not meet the threshold of being a danger to themselves or others which would justify strict regulation of their gun rights.

Considering the constitutional implications of these regulations, it will be interesting to see if the Obama Administration is able to present a narrower version of this proposal that can stand up to close scrutiny by Congress. As the proposal currently reads, it could have far-reaching implications for those beneficiaries who do have a representative payee.


[1] LA Times, Obama pushes to extend gun background checks to Social Security, by Alan Zarembo


By: Devon Brady of Premier Disability Services, LLC®