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I just became POA over my mom and now I have to figure out how to handle her SS check. She has moderate Dementia and isn't able to handle her own bills. Would it be better for me to become Representative Payee, open her a checking account and I could pay bill or should I get a joint account and now worry about Representative Payee.

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Really good responses here. You are all amazing!
Carol
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You can do either. There are a couple of things to consider. If you put any of your personal money into a joint account, it will be considered as hers if she has debts. It is important to keep your money separate. Also, another thing to consider -- if your money is on the account and you incur debt, debtors can go after your mother's money. The ideal situation would probably be to have her account in her name with you as the PR (personal representative) with rights to sign checks as needed. Since you have POA, this shouldn't be a problem for most banks.
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Oops -- I meant "if your name is on the account and you incur debt..." I have money on the mind. :)
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With being a Rep. Payee, you can make changes/get info to your mom's SSA and if she has SSI benefits. If she has SSI and Medicaid, you can change her insurance providers if need be. SSA does NOT recognize POA. They only recognize Rep. Payees. So having POA doe NOT help with SSA benefits or info if you should need it. Also, if your mom is on SSI, she cannot have more than $2000 in her account.
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Thank you. Mom makes to much for Medicaid with her SS and Pension checks. I just talked to her and explained what I needed to do and she said she would go to the SS office with me Monday and have that done. Now come Monday I don't know if she will remember but we will go anyhow. She has moderate dementia and for me to get a Dr. to send a letter to them she would have to take a 4 hr test and she isn't up to doing that.
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I know exactly what you mean about the four hours' of testing being too much for your Mom. My Dad was worn out by the three hours of testing that we had done by a neuropsychologist to pinpoint his frontal demential diagnosis. However, in order to get a referral for that extensive testing, his GP first did something I've seen referred to frequently as a "mini-cog" test, which took about 10 minutes (if that). Your Mom's score on this smaller, shorter test might be sufficiently low to get her GP to make whatever written recommendation you need?

On the bank account and SSI front ... does your Mom already have her own bank account? In my situation, we have my Dad's bank account set up so that every bill that can be is paid automatically from his account on a monthly basis. His social security and pension checks are similarly deposited directly to his account ... so there are rarely any checks to be cashed or managed. In our particular situation, we set up his bank account as a joint account (with me as the other account holder), but I have been very careful NOT to put any of my personal funds in this account, nor do I write checks out of the account for anything except services and items for him. I want to be sure that if anyone (e.g., family members, government programs, etc.) needs to "audit" what I've done down the road in terms of managing my Dad's finances, everything will be very clean and untangled.

Being a "joint account holder" makes it easy for me to keep an eye on the account online (from another state) and make sure the bills being paid are "normal" for him. This is how I first started to spot a vast increase in the number (and amounts) of checks he was writing to random telemarketing and snail-mail fundraisers -- many of which he didn't specifically remember, and which added to my growing concerns about his memory and judgment issues. I also discovered checks that he had written to the IRS and state department of revenue, which he didn't remember, but which alerted me to the fact that he had received additional bills from these entities, and then to work with his accountant to track down the reasons why, and to get the charges reversed. (My own accountant tells me that a vast number of people, particularly older people, simply pay bills that they get without ever questioning them, especially when they come from the IRS ... but it is ALWAYS worth double-checking such bills, as they are often wrong.)

Sorry, I digress -- my point was that having access to my Dad's account info online has been VERY helpful, and made it easier for me to manage his finances. But if you have access to your Mom's account online (or can register for online access in her name with a password your create), this may be sufficient to give you the same access to information.

I have similarly signed "Dad" up for online management of every "sporadic pay" account I can (for example, homeowner's insurance, car registration renewal, etc.). This makes it possible for me to go online and arrange for payment of these occasional bills directly from his checking account, or to pay them from my credit card and have him write me a check later to reimburse me. I don't have to depend on him to remember to pay (but of course, I have to remember myself!). Gradually, over time, I have submitted copies of our POA to various companies with which I know I'll need to deal directly on his behalf.

One other thought ... you said that your Mom makes too much with her Social Security and pension to qualify for Medicaid. This is also the case with my Dad, and he also has a small long-term care insurance policy, so between those three things, I know we'll be able to cover his care costs for a while. But when the LTI policy stops paying, his Social Security and pension will, as in your Mom's case, be too much to qualify him for straight-out Medicaid, but not anywhere near enough to cover the actual likely expenses of his care. My understanding is that if you reach this point, there are various arrangements you can make (depending on the state you live in) to get assistance from Medicaid; again, as I understand these arrangements, they involve the parent who needs assistance paying basically everything they make first, and then Medicaid covering the rest. In these cases, some amount of income is earmarked for the person's personal use every month (not a lot), and the rest goes toward care expenses. When the person passes away, the state may then step in and require that money it has expended be reimbursed through sale of the person's house and any other remaining assets (under some circumstances; talk to a Medicaid attorney in your state to find out what applies to your Mom's situation).

Hang in there! :-)
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Mom has no checking account because her credit is so bad. Where I bank at they are the ones who told me about Rep. Payee. They said they would open her a account if I have that done. She lived with her bro and sis until 2 yrs ago in SC and my aunt and uncle decided they wanted to move back to OH so mom wanted to move to Tn where me and my sis live. She rented a house until 5 months ago when she had a mini stroke and then we found out she had dementia also. So my and hubby moved her in with us. The only thing she owns is a car which she can't drive now and I do so thinking about getting titled in my name. I have been paying her bill for her the last 2 yrs with money orders and going to Wal mart to cash her checks but this is getting hard to do because she isn't able to go get them cashed. Before if I didn't pay her bills when the checks came in she would just blow her money. She has so many creditors coming after her for money it isn't funny. Now I am trying to make payment plans to all of them. I just want to pull my hair out!! The bad thing is I didn't know about all these other bills because she would throw them away when she lived on her own. Now that I get the mail I am seeing them all and it is crazy. She had 8 credit cards and hasn't payed anything on them for 2 yrs. We already went to court on one card and they dismiss the payment.

Well enough of my venting. Thanks for listening
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