Maybe I’m the Dummy! Social Security and Me.

Appointment as Dad’s Social Security Personal Representative

When mom died I went to the Social Security Office to apply for the death benefit for dad.  They said he had to come in himself and I told them he had Alzheimer’s disease and couldn’t come in.  Then they said if he had Alzheimer’s disease, then I needed to apply to be his “Personal Representative” so I did.  This means his checks are sent to me.  I have to keep them in a separate account.  And once a year I have to fill out a form that states how I spent the money.

All this makes sense except when it doesn’t.  I got the first annual form in February.  There were only a few questions.  1.  Had I been convicted of a felony in the past year?  If so, explain.  No, of course not.  2.  Did the beneficiary continue to live alone or with the same person or in the same institution from Feb 2011 through January 2012.  No.  He moved north to live by me. If no, explain in comments on the 2nd page.  Question 3 had to do with his total income from social security.  Did I decide how it was spent or saved?  Yes, of course.  How much was spent on food and housing?  How much on clothing, education, medical and dental, etc.  How much was spent.

This looked confusing to me.  His income from social security was not sufficient to support him for even three months in assisted living.  The rest of his expenses came from his small pension and savings.  Was I supposed to account for all his income and expenses?  I telephoned the social security office to ask how I was supposed to make the numbers add up when he obviously spent much more each year than they were sending him.

The woman told me what to put in each line and I completed the form and mailed it in.

Yesterday I got a “verification form” from the social security office.  I had answered “No, he did not live in the same place in January 2012 as he had in February 2011”.  I said he moved because my mother died and he needed to be closer to me.  I wrote a short accurate statement about the move.  The cover letter for the verification form stated that I had answered “No” to question 2 and did not give details about my answer.

I pulled out my copy as fortunately I have a habit of copying anything I send in at the request of the government.  I did give a complete answer and filled the entire space available.  I was frustrated and angry.  Why are they always taking so much of my time?  Why don’t they explain why they did not like my answer?

I filled out the new form.  Again, I took out all the space available.  Where does he live now?  I gave the address of the ALF he is in now, 3 miles from my home.  When did he move?  I said last year and gave the exact same date I gave in February.  Why did he move?  Again, I said he moved to live near me.  “If he does not live with me, how do I keep in contact and find out about his needs?”  I visit him 4 to 7 times a week since he only lives 3 miles from me.

Then I wrote a 2 page letter explaining that mom used to care for dad since he got Alzheimer’s disease.  They moved into Assisted Living in the south.  Mom fell, broke her hip and died.  Dad remained in the ALF in the south.  I went south to be with mom in the hospital and then remained with dad until spring when I moved him north to live in an ALF near me.  It seemed to be redundant and I felt like I was explaining the obvious to a kindergartener.  I made copies of everything and sealed it in the envelope and put it out to mail.

Then I pulled out dad’s Social Security file to file away the correspondence.  I reviewed the past few years’ worth of statements and all of a sudden it hit me.  The official address that Social Security had for dad was not the ALF in the south or even the mobile home he was in before that.  No, the official address they previously had for dad was the house he owns in the north.  Mom and dad used to spend winters in the south and summers in the north, but considered the northern home to be their permanent residence.

So, when I filled out the form in February and again this morning, I had been writing about his address at the ALF in the south and never wrote about the address of the house in the north!  Fortunately, the letter I wrote explained how mom and dad spent half of each year in each location – north and south – and gave the northern home address as well as the southern home address.

So, while I thought they were really thick, it turns out I was the one who made the whole thing so confusing!  I did not reopen the envelope I had already sealed.  I hope they read the letter as I already filled out all the space available on the form!  Now I can see I was as “thick” as I thought they were!  I hope I don’t get another letter from them.  I spent too much time filling out the verification form and writing my response letter.  I need to move on!


About letstalkaboutfamily

I am a retired and was the primary caregiver for both my parents before they passed. I have children and grandchildren. This blog is an attempt to connect with other caregivers and share ideas and experiences. I hope you will let me know what worked for you if you had an experience similar to mine. The main issues I am going to talk about are elder care, death and dying, assisted living, family relationships and hoarders and hoarding. Other topics will come up as I address the issues and my relationship with other family members.
This entry was posted in Alzheimer's Disease, Assisted Living Facility, Caregiving, Elder Care, Eldercare and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Maybe I’m the Dummy! Social Security and Me.

  1. uffda123 says:

    social security can be pretty thick. For several years after my husband was diagnosed with vascular dementia those brilliant folks at social security would send us forms each year to fill out to prove that he was still disabled. I always wanted to call them or include a letter with the forms asking what dreamland where they living in, dementia doesn’t get better it only gets worse! luckily after 5 years they seem to have gotten the message. each time my husband got the forms from them it would send him into a tailspin, making his condition worse.

  2. Yes, it is a frustrating experience. They just send these all purpose forms with no cover letter and no indication of exactly what they want. I have similar problems with Blue Cross and Medco and they all drive me crazy! They have too much power and too little understanding of what is happening in real families.

  3. Teresa Cleveland Wendel says:

    My cousin Dave (with Alzheimers) lived with me. My sis took care of his finances. Despite the difficulties of caring for Dave’s daily needs, I think my sis had the harder job with all that paperwork.

    • It’s nice when 2 or more people can share the care giving. Jane Gross wrote about how her brother handled her mother’s finances while she did the hands on day to day care giving. I think it would be very nice to have someone I could count on to do parts of this job. It lightened the load a lot to just have someone visit regularly like when I had the companions going in while I was away. I wouldn’t stop visiting, but it would take off the pressure when there were other things I have to do. Now at least I have cut back to 4 days a week so that gives me some days to do other things and not have to worry about being there to see dad too.

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