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It seems like this should be easy and common, but even my very adept elder care lawyer doesn't know what the right thing to do is.


My father is in a SNF in Michigan. I am in another state. I changed his mailing address with Social Security and did NOT select the "This is also my residence" option. There was nowhere to actually add in a "residence" address, but I didn't want my dad to get the mail. I'm his only child and his POA but haven't jumped through the SSA's representative hoops.


Now I'm having issues with his prescription care company and others because his MEDICAID address is now mine in TN rather than his in MI even though his SSA account states that he is not resident here. This is a huge problem with coverage, etc....


Has anyone navigated this before? SSA won't talk to me. My dad is in no shape to talk to them. I just want to do this legally and also not have my dad getting mail he doesn't understand and can't deal with.

I had no problem switching my father's mailing address to where I live when he was in the nursing home.
I went down to the Social Security Administration with my POA documents and told them to start depositing his checks into a different account I had set up for them. There was no difficulty at all.
The Medicaid address should also be his mailing address which is yours as well. You need to be reading any documents Medicaid or Medicare sends on your father's behalf.
His Medicaid case worker needs to be informed that you are his POA and that his mailing address is your home. His residence is the nursing home. They are not one in the same. His Medicaid caseworker needs to be informed of this.
This is what I had to do for my father and it was fine.
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SS was the worst for me. Like you, I am the only person left for my mom. All posts have excellent advice! The easiest path was to have mom be there when I called local...Due to covid, our local office taking no in-person visits. Several calls to navigate the no-poa path, the local rep just said the easiest. Sooo...what I did. Mom is memory challenged, has macular degeneration and eyesight is failing and she is hard of hearing. I wish I had videoed the exchange! It was all I could do to keep from laughing. Mom needed some prompting to see some numbers, she was offended the women did not know the state she was born in after verifying her city, her mother's maiden name prompted a look at me that said, "What is with this person? Why does she need to know that" Lots of eye rolling and looks that this person she was talking to was not all there The rep had to repeat the questions and mom still needed prompting. Lucky for me, mom's follow up comments to the rep proved she was somewhat understanding. The last question response was the best. The rep asked her if mom would allow me to be her rep and continue the process of changing direct deposit to a new bank. After a look at me that could only be exasperation she said "Well who else? She takes care of me, why wouldn't I. Yes I want her to take care of me, she has for a long time!" All my back and forth frustrations was worth it. The poor rep was finally relieved to be off the phone with mom. ME? It was the best laugh I have had during the process!
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disgustedtoo May 21, 2021
You were lucky to get someone at SS who was willing to continue down that path, with mom asking you and you replying!

My mother wasn't ready for the move to MC yet, but I had taken over finances. In order to make my job easier, I attempted to have SS deposit changed to primary CU account. Mom had opened an account in a more local bank, to have easier access to an ATM. My mother was also hard of hearing. I was about 3' away from her and could hear what the SS rep said on the phone. Mom sadly just kept saying "I can't understand you", not "I can't hear you." I would repeat she just wants to know if it's okay to talk to me. The rep could hear me and repeated questioning only quieter each time, making it impossible for mom to hear! She finally got me on the phone, rudely told me I'd have to take her to the local office and hung up on me. Fortunately I was able to do the transfer to CU by asking the CU to initiate it (yes, they CAN do this!) Once the deposit was switched, I was able to close the bank account using POA,

It was later that I had to do the Rep Payee because she was in MC by then and I needed to change the address for paperwork, etc. I used my own local office and it was the easiest thing I had to do. No mother with me, no letters from docs, nothing, just answer their Qs and wait. With the virus and not allowing people in, I'm sure the process is more difficult. A lot depends on who you get on the phone. As with any occupation, you get some who are good and some who have no skills.

When approved, that's when I found out that legally the only way to manage another person's SS funds is by becoming Rep Payee. One can do as I did initially, which was to use any funds in the CU account to pay bills, but the paperwork that came with the approval clearly states that no one should be managing those SS funds unless they are Rep Payee.

The yearly accounting is relatively simple and can be done online through your own SS account (they tie it in.) What was a pain is they kept questioning my report that all funds were used for "housing and food." The small amount she received would never cover regular housing and food, and their statements that people have other needs, wants, etc was laughable! Where is a person with dementia, serious hearing loss, mac deg and a walker or wheelchair going on vaca? I didn't mind reporting back the first time, but every year? Make note in her file and stop wasting SS/Medicare funds! I received several mailing after mom passed - it was so stupid.

I was also aware that the final payment would be taken back. Even though SS is paid, like regular wages, a month behind, they take back that final payment. For instance, mom passed mid-December and the January payment slipped through before the FH notified them. They took back the funds shortly after being notified, yet sent me a letter demanding I pay it back. The letter was dated THREE days after the funds were already withdrawn!

This take back of funds is really annoying. Mom had plenty of assets left, so it wasn't an issue for me, but many people rely on that and need that payment for expenses incurred in that last month of life! I've read postings from others who don't have funds for burial/cremation - that last month would help offset those expenses. It doesn't matter if they pass on the first day of the month or the last, they don't get paid. It would be like you working 4 days and passing on day 5, but the company refuses to pay for those 4 days next week. This is SO wrong!
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Imho, I STRONGLY suggest going IN PERSON to your local SSA office. Why in person rather than a telephone call? Answer = To ensure that you get the resolution that you're looking for and also ask for the name of the agent to whom you should speak. Like anything else, things don't always go as planned, e.g. years ago, I had changed my name with the SSA because I remarried. I was appalled to learn, when my CPA filed income tax returns electronically that he had to file under my maiden name, which is something I had not used in 35 plus years.
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BurntCaregiver May 22, 2021
Definitely go to Social Security in person. Trying to do it online is a disaster.
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Here is where to start: Google: Area Agency On Aging MI. Though Medicare coverage is the same in all states, Medicaid programs are entities governed by the state in which they operate. The Area On Aging helps with maneuvering through its complications. When you Google Area On Aging MI, you will find several offering. Choose the one that best represents the city closest to you. One call and they can help you navigate through changing from one state to another. Please note that in order to receive all benefits that your father is entitled to he will have to change doctors to those which are located within MI. P/S you will need your father to be with you during this process so that he can verbally verify that he has given you permission to speak to them about him. They will ask him just a few questions.
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Contact your local SSA office. You might be able to schedule a phone appt or possibly an in person appt. Have your dad with you for either kind of appt so they can answer questions. I had to deal with SSA recently and the local office was extremely helpful and problem was corrected. Yes it took awhile but it is okay now.
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This is an extremely frustrating situation. I also lived 4 hours away from the memory care apartment where my mother lived. I went to her facility every 2 - 4 weeks. However didn’t want to let any urgent mail sit there, or be lost, which was the main reason I became rep payee.
That was the easy part!
Sometime later mother needed a wheel chair. It was delivered and two months later, the med equip provider demanded that it be returned or that we buy it because my mother was not in their service area. They were using the SS address which was my address and with no apparent way to recognize where she lived.

At that time (3 yrs ago) I went round and round with SS, Medicare, and the med equip provider, to no avail. When they told me her wheel chair would be taken away in 5 days, we had another solution in place. (Fortunately for my mom.) I was ready to call all of my congress-people for help.
from what others have said, there may be a way to handle rep payee with residence and billing addresses being separated. That wasn’t an option for me.
Good Luck with your long distance care giving. It isn’t easy, but it can still be rewarding.
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disgustedtoo May 21, 2021
My mother's address in MC was listed with them when I became Rep Payee. My address was used for everything else. She was already in MC when I signed up, as it was the only way I could change the mailing address. I know they had it, because they send a letter to the person regarding someone signing up for Rep Payee and it went to her facility. By then the nurse knew better than to hand mom mail like that - only obvious personal mail like a card. She had handed mom a bill and she went nuts over it! I could see her physical address online and in mailings and all relevant mail came to me. If the SS person does their job right, this shouldn't be an issue (key words - do the job right!)
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I can just tell you what we did. When we changed my moms mailing address to my brothers most of it was easy, the mail order prescription service needed my moms approval to talk to me or do anything even though I also have POA so I called them with her in the room, explained that she has aphasia post stroke and put her on the phone, they asked for the approval they needed she said yes and I have been able to have them send orders wherever I needed them. We never actually changed her residence with Medicare or SS but she still had the house and did move back there so we didn’t have to. We continued however to have her prescriptions mailed to my brother so they wouldn’t get lost and she wouldn’t try to open and loose them or worse try to manage them herself again (multiple mishaps). I would suggest you try calling them with your dad there so he can give approval for you to manage his medications and make it easier on yourself. I am able to have them mailed to me now in a different state when she comes to visit (doesn’t happen any more) and have any official paperwork sent to me since I handle that.
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This has been a burr in my side too - especially during the pandemic. I received a variety a misinformation from SS reps until I finally found a local person to speak with - it took months. I started the process to be rep payee. But after I moved my mother into LTC, the facility had an option for them to be rep payee. I decided to let the facility be rep payee and they handle all mail regarding Medicare and social security. My mother will need to apply for Medicaid soon anyway, so I thought it would be one more thing I didn’t have to manage right now.
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I've posted this many times, so let me start with this:

NO Federal entity accepts ANY form of POA.

Most likely, one of the primary reasons behind this is that every state has different rules and laws regarding POAs. It would be a nightmare to try to keep up!

The BEST and ONLY legal way to handle SS and Medicare is to sign up as Rep Payee. The best way is to contact your local office (unless you enjoy being on hold for a long time and then get referred to the local office anyway!)

Before moving mom to MC, I had taken over her finances. If there is just something that needs to be addressed, calling them and having the person allow you to discuss the issue can work for that one time. It does NOT get you "in their file" to allow any other discussions/changes. In trying to talk with SS, with her approval, so we could move her SS deposit to her primary account, I was thwarted by mom's bad hearing and wrong response. She kept saying "I can't understand you", not "I can't hear you." I could hear the woman from 3' away and tried telling her they just want you to okay it. The woman just kept repeating the question, but quieter each time, which made it worse. She finally got me on the phone and rudely told me I'd have to go to the office and hung up on me. Most likely she thought I was scamming mom. Sigh. I was actually able to get around that by having the CU do it (yes, they can.) I needed to start with this so I could close the other account, making life easier for me!

All billers accepted the change of BILLING address, so all bills would be sent to me. Service addresses remained the same. Only the bank, CU and credit card required the POA.

Once we moved mom to MC, the plan was to rent or sell her condo. That meant I needed to change the mailing address for her SS and pension (also federal.) THAT required following their rules. In the case of SS, that meant becoming Rep Payee. Technically, the only LEGAL way to manage someone's SS is to become Rep Payee. Just because it is deposited electronically and you have POA over that account doesn't make it legal. It can work and if no one ever checks into it, no problem, but if they do, there can be legal issues. NOTE - they will ask for the person's residence address, but mailings should be sent to YOU, not the person. The only exception is during the approval they do mail notice to the person. Most likely this would be to avoid any kind of fraud.

The same problem is encountered with forwarding mail. NO federal mail can be forwarded. So, in order to get mom's SS, Medicare and pension paperwork, I had to sign up to be payee for both. SS was the easiest. I used my own local office, not hers. I made an appointment and answered all the Qs. They didn't need mom there or any other documents other than my ID and SS#. It took a few weeks to get approval, but from there all mailings went to me and I was able to set up the special Rep Payee account. First payment comes as a check, then you can call the local office and give them the routing and account number for the Rep Payee account.

I also had to coordinate between CareMark and her medical insurance regarding the address. If I only changed CareMark, the insurance would often send updates and change it back! So I did have to use the POA to ensure that issue was resolved.

Once SS approves, Medicare follows suit. As for taxes, I used an Enrolled Agent to ensure the trust taxes and mom's taxes were done correctly and we just filed electronically. The attempts I made prior to that with the IRS were rejected, so this took care of that issue.

I highly recommend you go through your local SS office and sign up as Rep Payee. It will resolve a number of issues.
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Mepowers May 15, 2021
Okay - what is an “enrolled agent?”
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I've changed my mother's mailing address to my address. The only entity that didn't have a mailing and residential address was for the Company she retired from. I also live in a different state than my mother, but in my case - we are separated by about 22 miles and a state line.

You need to be very careful when changing address - you want to change the MAILING/BILLING address only - not the residential address. If medicaid thinks he's moved to another state his benefits will be denied.

Good luck.
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I had this issue as well. Don't do what I did. I changed everything Except SSA/supplemental health insurance and Medicare Part D first. Then I did a change of address form from his home with the post office. It caused a huge problem because the post office reported it to SSA and his supplemental insurance. SSA needs to have his address be where is is and it seems all his health insurance etc follows SSA.
Go the extra mile to get POA info to the SSA (whatever they require) and whatever the health insurance will need as well. In the long run, you'll be glad you did.
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AnnReid May 13, 2021
Hi marydys - I think it is national law that POAs are NOT considered when becoming “representative payee” for dependent elderly.

I used the statement of incapacity, and it was accepted without any questions.
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He's in MI? All SNF are required to have a SW on staff, they are usually notaries also. Call them and have them navigate the system for you. I live in MI and the SW's in those facilities are smarter and alot more helpful than the other ones.
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Unfortunately, if your father is not demented, they demand to speak with HIM. you can do this by phone, and be there; that is what my brother and I did. But I had to be there and he was one half the state away. I found it so difficult being POA from the standpoint that even a marvelously well written POA doesn't work for SS. You must be representative Payee and that must be done by your dad or by you with doctor documentation he is demented. The IRS has yet more hoops if there is any substantial tax work, properties, and etc. Alas, if your father is incapable of understanding his mail and his ss you need a doctors documentation that is the case, and need to do the hoops at your Social Security office. Even a city as large as San Francisco, with three offices, I had to wait for a "specialist" capable of taking care of Rep Payee. Spent literally the day there.
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disgustedtoo May 15, 2021
Good or badly written POAs don't work for ANY federal entities.
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There are really no SSA “representative hoops” to “jump through” AT ALL. The process is very straightforward.

You may be able to do what’s necessary in your local office. If you have a letter or report from a qualified diagnostician that briefly describes your father’s condition, the process will be even easier.

I don't understand what you mean when you say SSA won’t talk to you. In my local office you go in, take a number and wait your turn. The counselor questions you about your relationship to your father, and information about where his assets are held and where his check will be sent.

If you have a POA account that is exclusively used for his expenses, the required annual report is easy.

All your problems will become simple when you actually become his representative payee.

Hope this helps!
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disgustedtoo May 15, 2021
"There are really no SSA “representative hoops” to “jump through” AT ALL. The process is very straightforward."

So happy to read this! I've posted many times that this is one of the easiest changes that I needed to make when taking over finances for my mother.

1) called MY local office and set up appt.
2) answered their questions and provided ID and my SS#
3) waited for approval

FYI:
1) I did NOT bring my mother with me
2) I did NOT have any medical DX or other paperwork
3) they didn't ask to look at anything I brought with me

The worst part was setting up the special Rep Payee account, but mainly because the place didn't do many and had trouble getting through it even with their own "cheat sheet." Once they figured it out (2 hours of my life gone!) it was not a problem.

The yearly reporting IS simple and can be done online through your own SS account (they tie it to YOUR SS account.) Most of it is confirming things like addresses, whether you still represent the person, etc. The actual reporting is fairly simple. For most people, just keeping track of how you spend or save their funds is sufficient - they break it into categories, like housing/food, savings, and others.

To make my life simpler, I wrote a check for the full amount to the MC facility, and covered the balance from her regular CU acct (combination of federal pension and trust funds distributed each month.) I tried to keep the balance of the regular account to a minimum, leaving a little extra for anything else needed, like supplies. So, when the SS report comes, I list it all as housing and food. I could NOT get them to understand that pittance would NEVER cover housing and food if she were living in the community much less cover buying things or taking vacas!! I explained that the pension and SS didn't even cover 1/2 of the facility cost. I also explained that unlike others who might buy things or go on vacations, she was mid 90s, with little to no hearing, losing eyesight to Mac Deg AND had dementia. She also ended up first with a rollator, then a wheelchair. Where's she going for vaca, New Zealand? Despite explaining it all, sure enough the same letter arrived after I reported the next year. They can't seem to note this and say oh yeah, she is in a facility and won't be going anywhere and the facility is EXPENSIVE! Thankfully I am done with that. The pension, being federal, can also request accounting. I was surprised I never received anything until the mail that arrived days after she passed. GAK! It was for 2019, not 2020. First question resulted in me having to call them - is the person alive. Well, no, not now, but this form is for the prior year (why they ask for 2019 accounting in DECEMBER 2020 is baffling!)

I finally just mailed that out, as I wanted to include a letter explaining everything. I wanted to be sure someone didn't see the check box indicating she's not alive and demand the funds back! I also suggested that if they need accounting for 2020, please refer to THIS accounting AND my letter, as nothing changed other than the yearly increase in facility cost. Fingers crossed...
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Raven,
Even if you do it right, it may take a year. Longer for some official agencies who keep their own address file.

Try changing the "billing/mailing" address with the credit reporting agencies, at least the top 3.

Go to SSA with your father, if that is at all possible to do. SSA will make their own determination and assign you POA right then and there, (imo, in my experience).

For every piece of mail, keep changing the address, mailing the address change to a separate address other than along with a bill.

Call up Medicare, be sure they have the correct address.

Have you tried putting in a change of address with the USPS (post office), changing it FROM the Snf TO the billing/mailing address?

There are private postal service businesses that can give you an address in his area, and forward his mail to you routinely for a fee.

These are just a few suggestions, maybe will not work for you. I had to try this for my dH and myself, living at the same address but having a separate billing/mailing address. After about 4 yrs., we think it is correct now.

Finally, can you ask the SNF to forward his mail to you, by sending them monthly SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope)?
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You will probably have to do the representative payee route.

If he is only getting social security income and pays for the facility, the bookkeeping will be easy.

Can you speak with his insurance company or do this stuff via the internet? That's what I did for my dad to best assist him but, I did have the signed authorization to speak with the insurance company.
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