Sen­a­tor ques­tions gov’t ben­e­fits to ‘adult baby’

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY STEPHEN DI­NAN

A key sen­a­tor has asked the So­cial Se­cu­rity Ad­min­is­tra­tion to in­ves­ti­gate how peo­ple who live their lives role-play­ing as “adult ba­bies” are able to get tax­payer­funded dis­abil­ity pay­ments, af­ter one of them was fea­tured on a re­cent re­al­ity TV episode wear­ing di­a­pers, feed­ing from a bot­tle and us­ing an adult-sized crib he built.

Sen. Tom Coburn, Ok­la­homa Repub­li­can and the Se­nate’s top waste-watcher, asked the agency’s in­spec­tor gen­eral to look into 30-year-old Stan­ley Thorn­ton Jr. and his room­mate, San­dra Dias, who acts as his “mother,” say­ing it’s not clear why they are col­lect­ing Sup­ple­men­tal Se­cu­rity In­come (SSI) ben­e­fits in­stead of work­ing.

“Given that Mr. Thorn­ton is able to de­ter­mine what is ap­pro­pri­ate at­tire and ac­tions in pub­lic, drive him­self to com­plete er­rands, de­sign and cus­tom-make baby fur­ni­ture to sup­port a 350pound adult and run an In­ter­net sup­port group, it is pos­si­ble that he has been im­prop­erly col­lect­ing dis­abil­ity ben­e­fits for a pe­riod of time,” Mr. Coburn wrote in a May 16 letter to In­spec­tor Gen­eral Pa­trick P. O’Car­roll Jr.

The re­quest comes at a time when mem­bers of Congress are strug­gling to cut bud­gets and weed out waste to try to bring down the stag­ger­ing deficit, and comes just days af­ter So­cial Se­cu­rity’s trustees re­leased a grim as­sess­ment of the pro­gram’s long-term fi­nan­cial health.

SSI is run by So­cial Se­cu­rity and pays out ben­e­fits to aged, blind and dis­abled peo­ple who have lit­tle or no in­come.

The in­spec­tor gen­eral’s of­fice didn’t re­turn a mes­sage seek­ing com­ment.

In an email re­sponse to The

In an email re­sponse to The Wash­ing­ton Times, Mr. Thorn­ton threat­ened to kill him­self if his So­cial Se­cu­rity pay­ments are taken away. “You wanna test how damn se­ri­ous I am about leav­ing this world, screw with my check that pays for this apart­ment and food. Try it. See how se­ri­ous I am. I don’t care,” the Cal­i­for­nia man said. “I have no prob­lem killing my­self.”

Wash­ing­ton Times, Mr. Thorn­ton threat­ened to kill him­self if his So­cial Se­cu­rity pay­ments are taken away, and said the tele­vi­sion episode show­ing him do­ing wood­work over­sold his abil­i­ties.

“You wanna test how damn se­ri­ous I am about leav­ing this world, screw with my check that pays for this apart­ment and food. Try it. See how se­ri­ous I am. I don’t care,” the Cal­i­for­nia man said. “I have no prob­lem killing my­self. Take away the last thing keep­ing me here, and see what hap­pens. Next time you see me on the news, it will be me in a body bag.”

Mr. Thorn­ton was fea­tured in early May on Na­tional Geo­graphic Chan­nel’s “Ta­boo” pro­gram along with Miss Dias, a for­mer nurse who feeds him a bot­tle and other­wise at­tends to his needs when he is dressed in di­a­pers.

In the episode, he shows off the adult-sized crib he built and sleeps in, and the cam­eras fol­low him to the hard­ware store where he buys wood for his lat­est do-ity­our­self pro­ject, an el­e­vated high chair that is ca­pa­ble of hold­ing his am­ple frame.

He said he has been liv­ing at least a par­tial adult baby life­style since his teenage years, though he does wear adult clothes when he goes out, fear­ing em­bar­rass­ment other­wise.

Mr. Coburn said Mr. Thorn­ton “is cog­nizant that his choice to live as an adult baby vi­o­lates so­cial norms,” though, and through both his projects and the adult baby sup­port web­site he runs, www.bed­wet­tingabdl.com, he ap­pears to have the skills to hold down a job. That, the law­maker said, should make him in­el­i­gi­ble for dis­abil­ity pay­ments.

Mr. Coburn also ques­tions why Miss Dias, as a for­mer nurse, col­lects SSI ben­e­fits, “since she is able to pro­vide child­care” to Mr. Thorn­ton.

In an ex­ten­sive bi­og­ra­phy on his web page, Mr. Thorn­ton says he worked as a se­cu­rity guard for a year and a half but said trauma stem­ming from child­hood abuse, com­bined with other men­tal prob­lems, made it im­pos­si­ble for him to hold the job, and he has been re­ceiv­ing SSI pay­ments for most of the last 10 years.

In his email to The Times, Mr. Thorn­ton said he is not ca­pa­ble of work­ing. He said run­ning the web­site only takes four hours a month, and he said his crafts­man skills were over­stated by the pro­gram, which showed him work­ing on his adult-sized high chair.

“What you saw on cam­era be­ing drilled was pre-as­sem­bled the day be­fore. All I did was drill six holes for the cam­era,” he said.

Ex­pect­ing the tax­payer to change his di­a­per: Stan­ley Thorn­ton Jr., 30, is be­ing fed with a bot­tle by his room­mate, San­dra Dias. They were fea­tured on Na­tional Geo­graphic Chan­nel’s “Ta­boo” pro­gram. Sen. Tom Coburn is ques­tion­ing their dis­abil­ity pay­ment el­i­gi­bil­ity.

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