My mom (71) refuses to apply for SSN benefits and Medicare. Can I apply for her on her behalf? - AgingCare.com

My mom (71) refuses to apply for SSN benefits and Medicare. Can I apply for her on her behalf?

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My mom age 71 refuses to apply for Social Security benefits and Medicare because she believes they will take away her home. I don't know how true this is. She has no health insurance and refuses to apply. She is receiving workers compensation benefits that will be exhausted soon. She is being extremely irresponsible and instead of getting assistance she is entitled to, she expects me to pay for her bills. I am a single mom. I make enough for me and my daughter to live comfortably. I am not in a financial position to take care of her. Is it possible for me to apply for her on her behalf? Will Medicare and Social Security really take away her home if she applies for assistance? My stress level is extremely high because according to her I am her financial back up plan. She says because I am her daughter, I am obligated to take care of her.

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Your mother is confounding social security and medicare ( wnich are entitlements/insurace she's paid for, through payroll taxes) and Medicaid, which is for folks who are indigent.

Is your mom cognitively impaired? Is she limited in the intellectual sense? Does she possibly suffer from dementia?
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Reply to BarbBrooklyn
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I realized that none of us answered your original question about Medicare or Social Security taking your mom's home.

Medicare is health insurance that your mom has paid for with salary deductions over the years she was employed. Medicare will not take her home. Even if mom is still employed, she she should have applied for Medicare when she turned 65. Her HR department/employer should have explained this to her.

Social Security is an old age pension that she has paid into while employed. Likewise, they will not take her home.

If mom becomes impoverished and needs to apply for Medicaid to pay for long term nursing home care, Medicaid will place a lien on her home. At her death, when the house is sold, Medicaid will be owed the money it paid out for her care.

If she downsized NOW and uses her money to buy or rent something more manageable, or moves into a Senior Apartment, it seems like a win/win situation.
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Reply to BarbBrooklyn
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She's already facing a rather stiff and lifelong penalty for not signing up for Medicare at 65. Does she know that?

Her SS benefits are at the maximum because she has waited until 70 the claim them.

You have no legal or moral obligation to support her.  I trust that you are not paying her bills? Does she have other income, like a pension?  Is there a benefits person at her place of employment who could explain Social Security and Medicare to her?

Frankly, this doesnt sound like stubborness. It sounds like cognitive impairment.  It may be from a treatable cause, as she is young to be developing dementia.

Please show her what we've all written.  Maybe she'll listen to us!
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Reply to BarbBrooklyn
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Young87, to me your mother sounds as if underneath the stubbornness and the semi-joking bravado she is absolutely terrified.

She is also being, if you'll excuse my frankness, a moron.

But mea culpa, when I haven't known what to do about looming problems all too often I too have done nothing except wish them away. So you can tell her from me: it doesn't work.

Thinking about what you can do in the way of groundwork... I know you say she won't downsize, but hypothetically if she *were* to sell her house, where might she move to? Having a look at the options, especially if you spot a really nice one, could give you a positive, attractive choice to offer her; carrot not stick, if you see what I mean.

You also have to get dogged about telling her it like it is. No, you are not her back up plan. Yes, she does have to sort out her own answers. No, she cannot afford to be away with the fairies when it comes to planning her old age. Don't be cruel, but do be unsmiling and matter of fact. This is a case of "Earth to mother, come in."
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Reply to Countrymouse
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Young, I suppose your mother wouldn't agree to execute a DPOA, which you could use to apply for SS on her behalf?

I see this as a real cliff hanger of a solution. If she gets sick, as I think most people do sooner or later, she's going to be in a real bind having to pay all her medical expenses out of pocket.

Although I don't have any foundation for this, I began to wonder if she's from the "Old Country" and doesn't really understand SS or Medicare.

Does she have other fears and/or anxieties? I'm just wondering if slipping into old age is bringing out some insecurities and lack of knowledge about what's actually available to her.

Do you think an elder law attorney could convince her? As many of us have found, we're "just" the adult children, and others "know better" than we do!
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Reply to GardenArtist
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Young, please keep us updated on how it goes with your mom.

You should also call SS, ( you also sign up for Medicare through the SS office) and ask their advice. You can call you local Area Agency on Aging and find out if their are legal or social service services that might be able to talk to your mother.
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Reply to BarbBrooklyn
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Thank you everyone! This is all great information and it helps to know that I am not the only one that thinks my mom ridiculous!! I have done some research on my own and tried to explain to my mother they won't take her home but I feel like I don't get through to her. She doesn't want to go with me to any office. I once did apply for food stamps for her and Medi-cal and she went and cancelled it right away when they called to verify more information from her. I even requested a Social security benefits printout for her to let her know how much she was entitled to which was $1200 a month. To no avail!!! 

I have had discussions with her and even yelled at her a few times for being irresponsible. Last year, she had to go to the emergency room at the bill came out to over $4000 dollars that had to come out of pocket. I used that as an example as to why she needs insurance to cover medical costs. Her next move, I believe was an extreme abuse of the system.. she went through some type of Medical Charity program to have her bill paid for. I wanted to honestly strangle her and said a charity program is not a substitute and/or a back up to having medical insurance!!!! I feel like I am talking to a wall when I speak to her.

I moved in with her two years to save money to buy a house. I had no idea my mom was such a financial mess until I moved in. Instead of saving my money, I was helping her pay her utilities, her property tax plus 5 years of tax back pay. She is irresponsible with money. Since she is so worried about losing her house from applying for benefits I told her the County will be the one to take your house for not paying your property tax! 

 I stopped telling her every job promotion I received and if I got a tax refund or not because I realized that just gave her the open door to ask me for money. I recently cut her off because I decided I needed to focus on me and my daughter. I had enough!  I am moving out soon to a really nice rental and she even had the audacity to ask my 11 year old daughter if she could move in with me. I was like WTF! You are so concerned with not losing your house but you want to leave it here and move with me?!?!  

I wish I had more saved up than I do. I will actually save more if I move out and plus save my mental sanity. My obligation is not my mom is it to take care of my daughter. It took me a while to stop feeling guilty about not helping my mom any more. I do love my mom but I am so disappointed in her actions. I am starting to think she may be mentally incompetent which as bad as this sounds, would make it a bit easier for me to take control and get her the assistance she needs without her trying to counter my every attempt. 

I know even if I move this will not be the end of my mom asking for money or her asking me to support her. I know deep down she wants to move in with me because I equal money to her. (Which I am going to give her ZERO) my next reply to her will be... You want money?!? Go apply for Social Security! 

I am definitely ranting here but I have no one else to talk to about this. I am honestly embarrassed of my situation with my mom. 
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Reply to young87
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Dear young87,

I know you love your mom and are doing the best you can. I would talk to a social worker and this way your mom can have all the information from an independent third party.

It's not fair for your mom to expect you to be her financial backup. You have a right to look out for yourself and your own children.

I can understand your mom's fears but its better to get the facts. Talk to Medicare directly and see what can be done if not now than for the future.

I hope you can get the help your mom needs.
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Reply to cdnreader
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Have you considered having your mother go for a psychological evaluation. Perhaps she has an underlying condition that is preventing her from applying for these benefits that she has earned. Most people want these benefits. It is totally unfair that she expects you to assist her financially when she is refusing to apply for benefits that she is entitled to. She needs to be evaluated both for a physical illness and for a psychological evaluation. Medicare nd Social Security will not tAke her house.
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Reply to Becky04473
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young87, thank you for the additional background. There is nothing for you to be embarrassed about. It sounds like you've done everything you can to help your mom understand SS and Medicare, but for some reason she can't understand these benefits and/or fears anything to do with government and/or change, perhaps thinking any change might alter her relationship with you. As others have said, she needs to get a medical evaluation and, if necessary, maybe a psychological evaluation. You need to be with her for these, or at least able to somehow communicate your concerns to the evaluator(s), as your mom may be able to fool someone during a short evaluation.

Based on what you've said, I suspect she is suffering from early- or mid-stage dementia coupled with a previously learned fear of government programs. If she does have dementia and not just symptoms due to a treatable cause (e.g. a  UTI) and if you are not able to obtain health and financial durable power of attorney (DPOA), then you may be forced into seeking court-ordered guardianship and conservatorship for her, with either you or someone else performing those roles. With either DPOA or guardianship, applications for both SS and Medicare for your mom can be made.
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