Controlling Social Security as a Caregiver.

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I've learned some things about Social Security that might help others caring for their parents. There is a form which you can fill out for SS to become "payee" which allows you to speak with them or act on your parents' behalf. This is not a POA (Social Security does not recognize a POA) The form must include a form signed by a doctor indicating your parent cannot manage finances on their own.

I was lucky enough to have a very nice person at Social Security explain it as my initial fear was they were going to send checks to me and it would mess up my own taxes.
She explained that becoming payee does not mean the check goes to the payee, or that it goes on your taxes. It simply means SS now recognizes you are legally managing their Social Security income on their behalf and allows SS agents to communicate with you to answer questions, etc. I would assume this also include Medicare issues as well. A good thing to have!


AmyGrace, thanks for the information. I am now taking care of my Dad's finances as in the past it was always my late Mom's job to take care of those things, so any bills or income coming in usually Dad sat aside, and eventually papers were intertwined with the newspapers and other recyclables.
I am a rep-payee for my husband. I am required to manage these funds in an account held for him, and to report to Social Security yearly on how those funds are spent. I am not allowed to put the money in an account that he has access to spend or to write checks upon. I am required to spend those funds for his benefit, and remain fully accountable for those funds. He is also entitled to a smaller amount of allowance for cash spending money.
There is a lot of misunderstanding and misinformation concerning SS and rep-payee accounts, however, you are correct, Amygrace, in that the receipt of these funds on behalf of another does not affect your taxes. Keep them separate from your own monies.
There is more to the rep-payee issues than said here.
If you are a rep-payee, this authority concerns only the social security funds.
It does not concern any other sources of income.
At this point in Mom's life, its pretty simple as all of it goes to pay NH cost. We have a joint checking account and social security is directly deposited into it. Since Mom's SS does not remotely begin to cover the NH cost, I transfer the difference needed from her savings directly into the checking account and pay the NH. The only other things I write checks for is an occasional purchase of clothing for her and medications. The nursing home suggested they be the payee, but I chose not to do that just in case it became necessary to move Mom somewhere else, it would create more problems transferring it.
As rep-payee, having your mother's funds in a joint checking accout may be problematic. When those funds in that account are looked into by social security, they will be also looking into your finances.
The information you provide is causing me to doubt what I already knew were the rules.
If your mother dies and SS has paid her, and you already paid the nursing home that month with hed money, then they take back the funds paid to her that month
( from your joint account), won't they be legally taking your money out ?

Wish I knew the answer for you.
Send: No, because I have no money in her account. It is all her money. The way I understand it, Social Security stops the previous month the person dies. The nursing home charges by the day. So if she died this month and already received her SS money and I had already paid the NH for the month, the NH would reimburse me the balance of days, and I would reimburse SS (unless they simply take it out of the account). I've kept my money totally separate from hers, and everything I spend out of the joint account is for her and nothing else. I also keep receipts for everything.
AmyGrace - personally I think going the rep. payee route is unnecessary and requires paperwork and reporting by family that could be quite intrusive and problematic if something goes amiss either by you or by an employee of SSA. I think that if your elder has a good drawn up by an atty DPOA & MPOA and an existing bank account of their own that you are a signature & POD on that all their income goes into direct deposit and they have done an on-line account for this to happen that there is NO NEED for rep payee or further dealing with SSA.

Rep payee has reporting requirements; its a 6 page form which can require documentation for all categories and they do audits. I think the rep payee system is designed to make work for SSA employees and doing audits whether or not it is actually needed provides for that. You have to be able to provide in detail with receipts where all funds went to and break it down into categories. Spending in some categories can be investigated. Any funds left over each month have to be into an interest bearing savings account.

Amy, is what you do now to pay for mom's NH costs & her personal needs any different than before? You write a check for whatever is due and transfer funds as need be, right? How is having to keep a journal, do an annual reporting and be able to basically be on the defensive on all costs for mom an advantage? Because that is really what you need to continuously do if you become a rep payee. If your late in the reporting or something happens to question your suitability, SSA could do an inquiry on this or APS could be call to do a review.

I just feel being off the radar - whenever possible - is best.

Also please check the admissions contract. If mom is private pay most NH require a full month paid even if they die within the month. If they are on Medicaid, Medicaid only is required to pay NH a daily reimbursement rate. But private pay is whatever is in the contract. If it is only for days alive that is due, that is unusual.
NH required a "last month's pay" so whenever Mom passes, it is already paid for that month. I had no choice but to go the route I did because it was the only way I could get her 1099 for 2015 since it was mailed to her last residence and returned to sender. They refused to even talk to me, or recognize the POA.
You are right, the way we had it before worked fine and would have continued had I remembered to fill out a forwarding address form when we moved her last year. But, I'll just have to cope, keep receipts. Mom is 101 and failing so I will not have many months of "proof" to provide.

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