The California man who lives part of his life as an “adult baby” and collects Social Security disability payments says the federal agency has cleared him of wrongdoing and will continue sending checks.
Stanley Thornton Jr. now wants an apology from Sen. Tom Coburn, the Oklahoma Republican who called for the benefit review because the investigation disrupted the final months of life for his roommate Sandra Dias, who playacted as his mother, spoon-feeding him and helping him into his baby clothes until her death in July.
“We recently reviewed the evidence in your Social Security disability claim and find that your disability is continuing,” the agency said in an August letter that Mr. Thornton posted on the website he maintains to document his adult baby lifestyle.
Mr. Thornton first gained prominence after he appeared on a reality television show and later after Mr. Coburn asked for the Social Security Administration to investigate him. The lawmaker questioned why he was receiving taxpayer-funded Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments, commonly called disability checks, given the woodworking skills he demonstrated in May on the National Geographic channel television show “Taboo.”
Dias died July 7, and Mr. Thornton moved out of the apartment they shared. He told The Washington Times they had made payments based on their combined disability checks, which came to about $860 a month for each of them, and he could no longer afford the home on his own.
“My best friend Sandra had to spend the last 3 months of her life being accused of something she didn’t do. Having her family and 3 kids seeing her accused on the nightly news of something she didn’t do,” he wrote in an extensive post explaining the situation on the website he runs at www.BedWettingABDL.com for others who play-act as babies, wear diapers or wet their beds.
John Hart, a spokesman for Mr. Coburn, said Tuesday that the senator, who is also a medical doctor, is still puzzled by how “a grown man who is able to design and build adult-sized baby furniture is eligible for disability benefits.”
“Yet, the problem is not with Mr. Thornton, per se, but with the politicians and bureaucrats who have coddled him,” Mr. Hart said. “Disability fraud effectively steals from those who are truly disabled, while weakening the economy for everyone.”
SSI is run by Social Security and pays benefits to aged, blind and disabled people who have little or no income. The funds are paid out of general taxpayer revenues, not from payroll taxes.
The Social Security inspector general’s office said it couldn’t comment on the case without the permission of Mr. Thornton, who has not granted it to the agency.
Mr. Thornton said that during the course of the investigation he underwent a three-hour interview with Social Security investigators and an FBI agent over his disability status and whether he received any compensation from his participation in the reality-television episode.
In emails to The Times, he said he was exonerated by all of the agencies.
“Just thought I would let people know, I have been triple cleared of being accused by Senator Coburn of Social Security fraud,” he wrote.
In the program, Mr. Thornton was shown playing in the adult-sized crib he built and seen working to build a wooden highchair. Mr. Coburn asked Social Security’s inspector general to take a closer look at the disability program and Mr. Thornton’s situation in particular to see whether beneficiaries were being paid by taxpayers even though they were able to work.View Entire Story
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Stephen Dinan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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