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Should an 'adult baby' be eligible for SSI benefits?

Earlier this month, the National Geographic Channel's "Taboo" show featured a 30-year-old man that lived his life in a very interesting way: as an "adult baby." According to the television show, the man wears diapers, is fed from a bottle, sleeps in a crib, and is cared for by his roommate, who plays the role of his "mother." While this sort of alternative lifestyle is surprising and even disturbing to many, it does not appear to be harmful to the individual or the community around him.

However, after the show revealed that the man does not work, but receives monthly Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments, a United States senator has asked the Social Security Administration to investigate the man and others who live the "adult baby" lifestyle.

The television program showed the man performing tasks such as driving himself to complete errands, making furniture, and running a website. Because of this, Senator Tom Coburn, who is notorious for keeping an eagle-eye on potential legislative waste, has questioned whether the man is truly incapable of working to the point where he is eligible for SSI benefits. In addition, Senator Coburn has asked why the man's roommate, a former nurse who provides care for the man, is unable to work and collecting SSI.

Seeking answers to these questions, Senator Coburn wrote a letter to SSA Inspector General Patrick P. O'Carroll Jr., raising the possibility that the man and others like him are improperly collecting SSI benefits. On his website, the man defends himself, stating that he has mental impairments and suffers from trauma associated with abuse he received as a child, all of which prevent him from holding down a job.

It appears that more information is needed before the SSA, the public or the press can come to a conclusion about this man and his situation. What do you think? Should this man be able to collect SSI benefits?

Source: The Washington Times, "Senator questions benefits to 'adult baby'," Stephen Dinan, 17 May 2011

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