Dad is now 94, in a Senior facility and on Medicaid. He only receives Social Security and a monthly pension, both of which goes into an Irrevocable Trust for his Board at the facility and other needs.
I just received a statement from a collection agency for thousands of dollars for some medical equipment. I know nothing about Dad's old bills. His former caregiver died and I am now POA.
They say they will send me a listing of former bills. Dad has no additional monies nor do I. Dad's home has been sold and everything cleared out. The agency is making noises. Can they garnish or take monies from either Social Security or the Pension?

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I was also in Collections but for private businesses. Meaning I was collecting from the businesses that bought from us.

The FTC has very strick rules that Collection Agencies have to follow even though they don't. Me working for a company had a little more leeway.

Yes, I also liked the Statute of limitation thing. I can't imagine you Dad spent that much money on Durable equipment. A simple Hospital bed should only run $1500 or less. Walkers are supplied by Medicare. Wheelchairs don't cost thousands. What was in the house when u sold it.

This is something for all of us to be aware of for ourselves and and those we are cleaning out houses for. Medicare rents things like beds. Before you get rid of Durable equipment call the provider to see if needs to returned to them.
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Let them make all the noise they want. They're blowing it out of their a$$es. It's an intimidation tactic collection agencies use to try to scare and shake you up enough to start paying them something yourself.
You are not responsible for your father's bills. You are twice as not responsible if you weren't even his POA.
The other bills whatever they are credit cards or medical will just have to eat the expense. Your father's credit will be ruined, but really does that matter now he lives in a care facility? Depending on how long they've gone without payments the original companies may no longer even own the debt. Credit card companies will sell debts to a collection group for less than what is owed because less is better than nothing and they know that things like wages, social security, pensions, and bank accounts cannot be garnished unless there is a court order. Courts do not act at the behest of a credit company. They will issue an order to garnish someone's pay check, pension, SS, or bank account if the person s violating an existing court order and ruling. Like you owe child support or alimony. Not for things like credit card bills.
I know this because I worked in collections. It was my job to intimidate and collect that money. I didn't do it for very long because I wasn't very good at it. This was back before all calls were recorded. I'd get people with pretty much the same story as yours. Parent in a care facility. All their income going towards their care. So in such a way I'd tell them they weren't personally responsible themselves and no garnishing can happen without a court-order, without actually coming right out and using these words.
You won't have to pay these bills and neither will your dad if all his funds are tied up with the care facility. They can try and fight it out in court with the care facility to get some, but it won't come to that so don't worry.
If you ever have to probate your father's will and there's any money left, the creditors will submit claims and may be able to recover money then.
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Not the Social Security but probably the pension. Send a certified letter as POA, asking for proof of the debt, and if you ever get it describe the inability to pay. Find out if the debt is "zombie" debt which means it has gone your state's statute of limitations. Sometimes collection agencies try to trick people into bringing the debt back to life,
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GardenArtist Aug 2021
VegasLady, good point on the statutory limitation.  I had forgotten about that.
Your dad is probably completely judgment proof is he’s sold his home and is impoverished to the point of being on Medicaid.
My understanding is that on SS and any type of federal / state pension (like civil service annuity type of pensions), these can only be attached by the supercreditors which are the IRS and state tax authorities. That debt on the DME is unsecured debt; so too bad for them if they can’t get a bill paid.

This lil factoid on supercreditors & sources of $ also holds true for any funds you get from FEMA. After H. Katrina lots of folks were flush w cash from FEMA for compensation on their losses. Debt collectors did what they could to coerce folks to pay old bills from their FEMA funds…. many were told that if they didn’t that they could seize their FEMA $. Flat out lying and mendacity.

Debt collectors will try anything so pls pls ask them in writing via certified mail to provide your dad with the information that the debt is valid using the info Garden posted. I’d suggest that you get a binder going on this as the debt collectors will sell the debt to another and then they to another collection group. It will go on for couple of years. Keep the letter on your computer so you can easily bat a new one out for the next debt collector. All this stuff supposedly is very time sensitive, so keep that in mind.
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Wondering, what you should do is familiarize yourself with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.    If you want to read the statute:

If you prefer interpretations, see these articles:

A more easy to understand synopsis:

What I would do though is:

1.  Absolutely do not speak with any of the debt collectors by phone; do it only in writing, sending by certified mail and obviously keeping copies of your own letters.

2.  Demand copies of all alleged bills (which must have dates of alleged purchase, source, and costs).  

When you get this information (assuming they send it), one thing you can do is contact Medicare to find out if they made any payments for any of the services.     I believe that Medicare disbursements can be accessed online; I haven't done it as I've had no need to, but you can contact Medicare to find out.

3.   Do you have any idea how old these alleged outstanding bills are?   Personally, if they're significantlyolder, I wonder if the charges are legitimate and/or if they're just trying to put the squeeze on your father.
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They can't garnish SS, not sure about pensions.

What Medical equipment are they charging for? Medicare covers some and so does secondary insurance sometimes. I would get the bills but then write a letter telling them Dad is now on Medicaid and has no money since it all goes for his care. Better yet, email them so they don't have your address. To garnish Dads pension I think they have to go to court. If they are able to garnish it, Medicaid has to be made aware so it can be adjusted or there will be an amt due on Dads bill to the NH.

I would wonder what equipment they are charging for. On large items like beds, Medicare rents them. Meaning, that when Dad was no longer using it the bed needed to be returned to the provider. Since that was probably not done, he is being billed because Medicare stopped renting it? Just an idea.

No matter what, they may just have to eat the loss. You are not responsible for Dads debits.
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