“I don’t want to grow up” holds true for ‘adult baby’ Stanley Thornton. The 30-year old California resident has been living most of his adult life as if he were a baby – wearing baby clothes, diapers, and being fed out of a bottle. Although this is an example of a well-documented psychiatric syndrome known as paraphilic infantilism, Thornton’s case drew particular attention when he was featured on a National Geographic reality television show earlier this year. The show revealed that he has been receiving SSI disability benefits for the previous ten years, all the while being cared for by an older woman who was also receiving SSI, a program designed to supplement the incomes of the disabled or otherwise under-supported.
After the show aired, Republican Senator Tom Coburn, outraged at an apparent abuse of the Social Security Administration’s SSI program, requested that the SSA investigate Thornton’s eligibility for disability benefits. He argued that the woman caretaker, who has since passed away, obviously had child-care skills which would quality her for employment, and exempt her from receiving SSI. Thornton, on the other hand, had shown substantial wood-working abilities in making his own adult-sized crib and high chair while being filmed for the show, and is able to manage an online website for others like himself.
Thornton argued that his adult baby lifestyle had nothing to do with his eligibility for SSI, which he claims stems from post-traumatic stress syndrome, back problems, depression, ADHD and other factors. He was confident that all of his disabilities were unarguably documented. As for Coburn’s referral to wood-working skills, he dismissed it as misconstrued by the filming, and states that his website requires very little maintenance.
The official investigation into Thornton’s SSI eligibility ended recently when Thornton received a letter from the SSA stating that his disability status had not been found to have changed, a result which was proudly shared on his blog and in an email to Fox News. Thornton had threatened to kill himself if denied disability benefits, and criticized the waste of money in the way his case was investigated.
In spite of his failure to rat out what he still believes to be an abuse of the Social Security Administration’s SSI program, Senator Coburn is determined to continue investigations into similar abuses of the disability programs, and believes Congress should be taking more aggressive action to root out abuses of the system, a service to justice that is owed to all working taxpayers. He believes that cases like this one are just an example of how much the SSA’s programs need to be investigated and reformed for consistency and fairness in the standards of qualification and disability determination.
The Social Security Administration’s current financial crisis and backlog of cases create an even greater call for diligence in ensuring that only those who are legitimately disabled are receiving benefits, and that taxpayers are not overburdened in supporting others who are capable of supporting themselves, ‘adult babies’ or otherwise.