Per RSMo. 192.2405, employees of the Department of Social Services must report suspected abuse or neglect of a vulnerable person.
RSMo 192.2400 defines adult abuse as ‘the infliction of physical, sexual, or emotional injury or harm including financial exploitation by any person, firm or corporation.
Per RSMo 570.145, financial exploitation of the elderly and disabled is a serious crime for which there is a penalty. Failing to report suspected elder abuse or neglect is a misdemeanor under RSMo. 565.188.
Financial exploitation can be seen in many forms such as forgery, misappropriation of cash or assets, abuse of joint accounts, or abuse of power of attorney. Financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult can occur:
- Without the elder or disabled person’s knowledge
- By trickery, intimidation, or coercion; or
- When the elderly or disabled person is unable to give informed consent
In addition, RSMo 570.145 makes it unlawful for any person receiving or in possession of funds of a MO HealthNet-eligible elderly or disabled person residing in a licensed nursing facility to fail to pay to the facility all monies owed from any source of income as verified by the Family Support Division (FSD). Staff must make a referral to the local Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) agency for investigation of possible financial exploitation of an elderly, blind, or disabled individual when this occurs.
Nothing in RSMo 570.145 limits the elderly or disabled individual’s ability to engage in bona fide estate planning, to transfer property, or to otherwise seek to reduce estate and inheritance taxes; provided such actions are not performed by others in ways as listed above, or do not adversely impact the standard of living to which the elderly or disabled person has become accustomed to at the time of such actions.
The Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) launched a program called MOSAFE – Missourians Stopping Adult Financial Exploitation – to combat this problem. If an FSD staff member suspects an elderly or disabled participant is being exploited financially, contact DHSS at the toll-free Elder Abuse and Neglect Hotline at 800-392-0210.
Refer to 0130.000.00 Legal Aspects Income Maintenance Manual Section 0130.005.05.24 Complaint Concerns Protected Health Information for legal requirements of the Family Support Division (FSD) regarding the release of records in cases of financial exploitation.