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My sister and I had joint financial and healthcare POA for our mother, 83, with dementia (in the form of extreme short term memory loss) and lung cancer. My sister died in March 2019. My mom had split her time between my sister (in Mississippi) and myself (in Pennsylvania). My mom and I have a joint account in PA from which her bills (Medicare, Medicare supplement, RX plan, and life insurance) are paid. Since my sister died, her daughter, my niece, has gone off the rails and caused a lot of family strife. When my sister was diagnosed in October 2018, my mother moved in with the niece as my sister needed a caregiver (another daughter and her family) and her house was too small to accommodate my mother also- not to mention the overwhelming responsibility of caring for two people. The niece with whom my mother lived was paid for her caregiving. I sent her my mom's debit card to use for unexpected costs that we didn't want her to have to pay out of her pocket, (i.e., doctor copays, local prescriptions, etc.) But in January this niece took the debit card with her to Texas to visit her husband working there, and used it for incidentals on the trip (my mother was not with her). My sister and I tried to explain to her that being a POA has legal responsibilities and that she could not use the debit card like that. She reacted very angrily, sent her mother and me nasty and hurtful text messages accusing us (but mostly me) of stealing and misusing mom's money. After her mother died she even went to her mom's attorney and threatened legal action against the law firm. When this first started in January I made an appointment with Social Security to become Mom's representative payee, but missed it when I went to MS when my sister was hospitalized again in February. I missed the follow-up appointment due to going to my sister's Celebration of Life. I went to Social Security and found out that allegations had been made and a representative payee was already appointed! No one from SSA spoke with my mom, and my POA means nothing to them. They won't tell me who made the allegations or even who they appointed rep payee.


A lot of nasty things have gone on, I'm trying to concisely explain the situation- but I have NEVER taken any money from my mom and have records of everything that has come out of her account. I have an appointment with the elder law attorney who drew up the POA, but not for another 14 days!


Has anyone ever had this happen to them? I have plenty of people who will stand up for me and my character- but where do I even start when Social Security will not give my any information?

Our experience here is that agencies react really badly to appointments that aren't kept, or are cancelled at short notice. They always seem to assume the worst. If you have to do it, it's worth explaining in writing and keeping a copy.
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For what it’s worth, social security doesn’t recognize a POA. They can’t tell you anything about your mom whether you have a POA or not. And having one doesn’t automatically mean SS will make you moms representive payee. Doesn’t your mom know who the representative payee is? Surely your mom knows where her money is going? Isn’t she getting money each month?

I would start writing a list of questions to ask the lawyer and get all your documents together. Don’t really have any other advice for you. Good luck!
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Daughter1954 May 6, 2019
All true. But, if you have a POA that allows you to use websites for your LO, you can register her with SS and access the website. However, you still cannot "spend" or "use" the benefits for yourself.
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First and foremost. Tell your niece, on the phone, not in writing or email or text, if she is the one who reported you to Social Security, that you believe that she made a false report and that you have hired an attorney and that if she does not withdraw her lawsuit/complaint, that she will be probably be responsible for paying YOUR legal fees, as well as her legal fees, when it is shown that you did nothing wrong.

To be honest, I had a hard time understanding the timeline of your post. Why would you need to explain the POA to your niece?

There's a lot of misunderstandings about a POA.

I have tried to explain this to my sole sister many times, to no avail. I am the POA for my mother. My sister thinks that being the POA is a good thing. She resents the fact that my mother made me the sole POA.

Here's the deal: Being a POA is not a reward or a benefit and gives you no rights that benefit you. It is a responsibility, but a responsibility that a POA can resign from at any time, for any reason. As far as being sued in your capacity as the POA, that's really hard to prove. Your mother's social security checks should be going direct deposit into her checking or savings account, and your niece should have no access, and I really do not understand how you could be in legal trouble, unless you have used that money for yourself.
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