Is it legal to accept a parent's Social Security check to use for her care and compensation if she lives with you? - AgingCare.com

Is it legal to accept a parent's Social Security check to use for her care and compensation if she lives with you?

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Mom is 95, in fair health but blind and in a wheelchair. My two sisters and I have had her stay in our homes (a month at time) for the last two years. Maintaining (her) empty house was no longer wise and we are selling it. Any proceeds would be banked pending possible future health needs like nursing home etc. We have only taken $100 a week so far for compensation and that went for her needs first, occasional lunch out etc. After her home sells and house-related expenditures are finished, can we give ourselves a "raise" and use her soc security check as needed after her care expenses are met?

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The only problem is Medicaid. If your mom is of sound mind, have an attorney draw up a contract so that the money is not considered a gift. That would be the safest way to go unless her house is worth a huge amount of money so that if she goes to a nursing home there's no chance that she'll need Medicaid.
I hope that this works out for you.
Carol
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You need to speak to an Elder Law Attorney that will draw up the paperwork for your mother to sign. It will have the proper legal language to allow your mother to provide compensation to you and your sister for her care. If your mom does have her mental capacity at her age my hat is off to her, bless her heart. Please, get all your POA and Health Directives in place. Hopefully, you have already done these things. What a wonderful family that shares in the care of your mom.
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First of all, if she is still competent, get the form from Social Security which must be signed by a doctor to make one of you "Representative Payee". Social Security DOES NOT recognize any POAs. Once that is done and social security approves you, then checks can be deposited into a separate bank account naming both of you on the account (Mary Smith Rep. Payee for Alice Smith). There is a yearly form you must fill out telling social security how you spent the money during the past year. Keep records of what you spend and there is no "raise" as this is her money, not yours. You need to take care of her expenses, not yours. Part of being a daughter is you are a caregiver out of love and respect, not profit. God love her for making it to 95! Merry Christmas!
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I don't think you can give yourself a raise unless Mom agrees to it since that is her money to use as she sees fit, since it sounds like she is still in sound mind.

Hopefully the current $100 a week compensation is written on an employment agreement which was signed by Mom and her children who are caring for her. You would need such proof later down the road if for some reason your Mom needs to apply for Medicaid to help pay for her continuing care facility.

Glad to read your are selling her house as it can become costly sitting empty. Since you plan to sell, you can sell the house "as is" but first I would recommend you get an Appraisal from a licensed Appraiser to give you an idea what the house is worth.

I sold my parents house "as is" since it hadn't been updated since they had moved in 35 years ago. The house was basically in good shape and I just didn't have the energy nor the time to get estimates to update the kitchen, the bathrooms, nor put in new carpeting and flooring. The house sold quickly to a gentlemen who rehabs houses at a price that my Dad liked, so it was a win-win for both parties.
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NO. In fact, all the money you have gotten is a gift without a written contract. So Medicaid becomes unavailable when there are gifts. See an attorney.
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It is legal for a competent adult to pay any amount she wants to for services she wants.

A problem could arise IF mom needs to apply for Medicaid and there isn't a care contract in place and you don't have receipts documenting that much of the money you received from her went towards her care.

If mom is agreeable to paying more for your services, go for it. (Just don't exceed what she'd have to pay for it in the open market.) To ward off potential problems if she needs to apply for Medicaid, have a contract in place. I suggest you consult with an attorney specializing in Elder Law to get this set up appropriately.

The proceeds from most house sales will pay for a year or a few years of long-term care facilities. If mom were to need a nursing home next year (let's hope not) and the house proceeds are enough for 2 years, she might have to apply for Medicaid for any remaining years. That is why it is best to be positioned to apply without problems.
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You might think that just because Mom isn't going into a nursing home now..it isn't a problem.

BUT, the look back is 5 years. So if Mom needs to be in a nursing home in 2020....that money you took in 2016 is a gift..and your mom is not eligible for Medicaid under the rules.

It makes any kind of planning crazy. A senior cannot give a present to a grandchild because it might be inside that 5 year look back. Ever since out system of health care became "for profit" we have a system looking for more ways to squeeze the last drop of profit..even from the most vulnerable.
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I don't see a problem, the mother is 95. She is not applying for Medicaid or going to a Nursing Home.
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It's always wise to seek an attorney but medicaidcknows having a livin costs more than $100.00 a week and they did not consider it a gift at all.
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A person's Social Security check is meant solely for them and their expenses. It's meant to cover her room and board along with her other basic needs. Anything outside of that may be crossing the line of miss use of federal funds because the Social Security check is meant to get the person through the whole month as small as the check is. I know there's not enough in some of those checks to get through the whole month, but I think if things were redone and raises were given to Social Security people would be able to do better with their Social Security checks. Many will tell you there's just not enough money to get through the whole month, and that's actually true. If you happen to be handling someone else's money, I think it would be a good idea to keep it in the bank for them. Keep a debit card handy that they can use for their own purchases. It would be a good idea for the person to have their own bank account. You never want to abuse someone else's money because you can get in serious trouble for it if you happen to be handling that money.

Now, as for the house, take the funding from the proceeds of the sale and help her set up her funeral. Look at her age, you don't know when she may drop off anytime so think of her funeral needs if it's not already set up. Go ahead and take the money and pay for her final expenses ahead of time and make sure you keep the paperwork in a safe place such as a fireproof safe. Make sure her last wishes are honored at that time. I would take as much of that money as possible and help make improvements in her life such as a better wheelchair but don't put her in a power chair because she'll hurt herself and other people if she's blind. I saw firsthand that blind people are a danger to themselves and other people if given a motorized chair, so don't do that. You can get her a new manual chair that's much better than the one she's in. You could also get her an adjustable bed and a brand-new mattress that she likes better if the current one is not as comfortable for her. Right now Tempur-pedic has adjustable beds. You may consider a new bed from Tempur-pedic and maybe some new clothing. If she needs a lift chair, you can consider getting her one of those with the proceeds.

Yes, what I'm describing is a spend down in case she's on Medicaid, but definitely consider putting the money from the proceeds into a trust and have the trustee use the money on her and improve the quality of the life she has left. Make her feel as comfortable as absolutely possible for the life she has left, because right now she needs that money far worse than you do because of her age and the fact she won't be here much longer. Spend as much of the proceeds on her as absolutely possible right now, even getting her walkers and bathroom aids to help her out. Then whatever's left you can consider putting away for emergencies
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