Reply
Regular Contributor

Mother died and the bad mail keeps coming: SSA, -- repeatedly -- now the nursing home. Who's next?

My mother has been on Medicaid for over 40 years. I remember reading the family mail since at least grade 4 or 5, back when there was a monthly Medicaid letter as proof of coverage. 

 

My mother went from ANFC to SSI to SS widow's benefits. Even on the husband with the higher wages, the best income she ever had was 99 percent FPL as her widow's benefit, which was not automatic. I remember having to drive to her apartment an hour away to participate in a telephone interview and having to accept being put on as rep payee, so SSA would not assign it to some agency that I would have to beg for money from, or so I envisioned. After the first year of going nuts trying to track expenses for the report, I just didn't and blew off all other requests for accountings over the years, about ten.

 

The roughly $150 net per month under the widow's benefit allowed me improve her life -- a cat she was able to pay for on her own (the prior one I secretly went halvsies on, only letting on toward the very end, because she could not have afforded her food and care otherwise, let alone the $200 deposit to bring her into the buidling). and I often had difficulty deciding what else to spend it on to keep it below $2000 for Medicaid. One year, I facilitated the her purchasing grass markers for her mother and her maternal grandparents. Toward the end it HBO and RedBox and takeout food became enjoyable "release valves." When my mother went into the nursing home in 2018, she had $2000 in the bank, and I went through quite a bit spending that on her rent on an empty apartment (it wasn't immediately clear she was staying), except for the cat, and getting her set up in the nursing home, including clothing, and a cost-share. There wasn't much left after that until the stimulus payments. I could do this just fine without the government. I had helped her for a very long home, almost since my return from college.

 

So far, I received a "fake" sympathy card from the corporate hospice provider. Bad memories and emailed them back something nasty. Then, SSA coming after me for recoupment, and with my Senator's office, The Bern, being so useless. I understand this is one staffer's perspective, but after laying this out, just what attorney was I going to get to tell SSA to buzz off? Wrong income strata. After being abused by her bank, I waited on hold for an hour with the SS national office to tell them, if the December 3 payment hit her bank account, I know nothing of it and have no access to knowing. By the time I received the second letter from SSA, which was really threatening, it turned out they had already reversed the payment out of her account. All those threats when the problem was fixed!

 

I checked Informed Delivery to see if my meds were coming, and instead I see a letter from the nursing home and another letter from SSA marked "RP," so I guess they will be wanting 10 years' delinquent reports? I don't even want to open the one from the nursing home. I am sure it is a bill. I will not pay it, not with my funds, that's for sure, but worry about it ruining my near-perfect credit score when buying my next house is on the agenda in 2022. I should not be penalized for helping my mother all these years.

 

When does this end? Is probate court working behind the scenes? Are they the next troublesome letter to expect? Do I have to worry about the nursing home because they are not my bill, and as previously stated, once it became known she passed, my online access to her accounts was terminated, which is fine by me except it would have been nice to have known about the December 3 payment, as a viewer only, to have seen the deposit and the reversal. 

 

Thanks,

 

Christina

 

 

 

 

0 Kudos
2,666 Views
7
Report
Regular Contributor

An update nearly nine months after my mother's death, re the mail:

 

I never heard anything from Probate Court and never called them, not seeking trouble. My father was my first close family death. (Was uninvolved in my father's passing. He was after any money I had right out of college. He bothered me at my first job. Never forgot that. He never tried to mend fences. "You women these days...") My mother was the first death of a person I was close to.

 

The corporate nursing home provider tried to stick me with a $200-something bill. I never paid it and have been very consistent since initial contact on January 4, "not my debt.'

 

I first tried the Vermont AG's Consumer Assistance Program. It was not helpful. I did not receive any useful advice to stop the collection calls and mail from TekCollect and Marcam Associates. (I of course blocked the calls and emails after they occurred.)

 

I either heard about the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on the radio or stumbled across them while looking for a "not my debt" letter. (They have other letters, including if it is your debt.) I used the template and faxed it to Marcam Associates and TekCollect. Nearly five months of peace followed, then TekColllect reared its ugly head on Saturday morning via email and US Mail on Monday. 

 

Well, I am impressed. I worked on this project most of Sunday, which i resented, trying to piece together a timeline of activites, find and print out key emails, and followed the directions about obscuring sensitive items, like full account numbers, my name, email and home address, phone numbers, etc. I did this for free on Adobe Acrobat, using my initials to "stamp" over the items that needed to be covered up before submitting. There is a tool, also for free there, to create one multi-page pdf from several one- or two-pagers (prior letters and printed out email).

 

Submitted online to the CFPB around 9 AM, left for the day, and was so very pleased they got TekCollect on the record THAT DAY to close the collection account! There is a paralled complaint they sent to the nursing home, which based on the Vermont AG experience, will likely be ignored. We'll see. They were notified via email submission of the form they sent me in March, and I clearly checked off "not my debt." Since the CFPB is involved, I will wait the 60 days before sending another letter, for instance. 

 

When the economy fell off the cliff, my move was put on hold because my investments, primarily a 529 ABLE account, sunk in value so much, but the last four weeks the stock market has improved. This gives me the hope to work to try to fix up and sell my current house next spring, and if I do not get sufficient bites doing FSBO, list it with a realtor. 

 

In March, I remember checking my credit score weekly to see if my mother's nursing home debt would show up. It never did, and as time went by, I stopped checking my score because I figured if they had cause to report out the debt as mine, they would have quickly.  A key point I repeatedly made was we did not co-own any accounts.

 

I also figured out a way to wriggle a $2000 life policy (Medicaid limit is $1500 FV in my state), out of my mother's estate a year and half before she caught Covid. It felt nice to be acknowledged in that way. I put it to her very plainly and let her make the choice 1) Do nothing and it goes to Medicaid payback. I would advise to stop paying the premium. 2) Remove my brother, who never visits or calls off the policy, or I advise also stop paying the premium, or 3) Let me put in the research. Continue paying the premiums for now. If I find a way, then I will expend the effort but also reap the complete reward. No pressure. I was willing to walk away without expending the effort and with no one getting anything out of the policy, especially the state. Two thousand dollars is not life-changing money for me. I relished the acknowledgment though.

0 Kudos
1,440 Views
0
Report
Honored Social Butterfly

When one is assigned the responsibilities of being a Representative Payee (RP) for a beneficiary, it is because the beneficiary is for some reason not capable of managing their own financial affairs with their GOVERNMENT benefit.  The type of benefit can be any form of Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).  With this responsibility of being a RP for a beneficiary, the person assigned this responsibility has to report how the GOVERNMENT benefit was used for the beneficiary -  usually annually.

 

Medicaid is another matter altogether - a person receiving Medicaid (alone or in combination with another program) has to be financially eligible in income and assets for the program.  Again, usually they are re-verified by the state as to this eligibility status on some timeline.  As a PR, this verification has to be done for the beneficiary.

 

You do need to verify what they are asking - because if not, there could be some repercussions from the federal government or from the state - they are only questioning that the (SS / SSI) funds were spent appropriately on her welfare and if she was (income and asset) eligible for the Medicaid benefits that she was getting - health and/or residential living. 

They are only asking for substantiating info from you as the RP for your mom.   

  • Were the funds that she was getting from SS / SSI used to pay her expenses as appropriate - health and welfare. 
  • Was she qualified for Medicaid - income and asset-wise.  

Will there be more questions asked by the government on your mom's affairs - probably - until they get an answer.

It's Always Something . . . . Roseanna Roseannadanna
0 Kudos
2,613 Views
5
Report
Periodic Contributor

Hi,

 

I am new to all this ... as a caregiver, are we required to file for RP?

0 Kudos
1,466 Views
4
Report
Honored Social Butterfly


@GailS668006 wrote:

Hi,

 

I am new to all this ... as a caregiver, are we required to file for RP?


A SS Personal Representative status is only necessary if the person to whom you are taking care of cannot handle their own affairs and they, or a court or the SSA designate you this responsibility.

 

This is different than a POA but a POA helps the SSA to make the decision as to who can perform this function of handling a person's SS benefits.

 

Today, since we can all establish a personal SS account with the SSA, there is an option during setup or change of such an account to allow the beneficiary the option of assigning such a person preemptively - in case it is ever needed.

 

 

It's Always Something . . . . Roseanna Roseannadanna
0 Kudos
1,371 Views
0
Report
Regular Contributor

Yes, you are supposed to. However, I did not. The cycle on that for my mother is by coincidence November, the month in which she died from Covid last year. I think or hope after November 2022 passes, Social Security will not contact me anymore for past-due reports. After completing the first set, I ignored the notices. They do not ask for receipts. I had considered just submitting the same percentage of income as an average food spend and and average non-food spend. I was so overwhelmed I could not come up with a figure.

 

Caring for my mother took precedence over filling out bureaucratic paperwork. So far so good, and they are short 10 years of reports or more. There is an RP report on my SS account I do not intend to fill out and would have no online statements to estimate it now. The account disappeared from my login after her death hit the system. My mother was a foster child in Vermont starting sometime in1935. I learned last year what crime her father committed and was quite upset that he got two of his kids back by the time of the 1950 Census. I am sure the Overseer of the Poor was thrilled to have this criminal support his own kids and not the state. Neither of these siblings was in school (shaking my head here). But my mother was not there. She was nowhere to be found in the county. I presume she was a "no one home," and was at work. I'll never get to ask her now.  It was unimportant educate these children, particularly girls. I would say my mother read at a grade 6 to 8 level, but had very poor self-esteem and just found it easier to go to the welfare office when a form showed up for completion. She never developed the capacity to handle basic math. Getting her a checking account and maintaining it became my job once I returned home from college. She was so worried about being taped at the ATM, I had to get cash for her. She had some idea that someone was watching and grading her efforts, probably a combination of failing out of ninth grade (who can pass high school doing zero homework, which was not allowed?) and my father did a great job convincing her she was so stupid she did not even try. He quit in the seventh grade, apparently was a handful in the military and was discharged after three months. He got benefits and most importantly, VA Health Care, so yeah, he did not have to show his face at the welfare office, just my mother.  That made him feel very superior. 

 

 

 

 

0 Kudos
1,454 Views
2
Report
Periodic Contributor

I appreciate your response. Seems like you had a lot to deal with through the years. Should I consult with someone on this? Since I turned 18, my parents made me a "silent" owner on their bank accounts and gave me the POA at the same time.  Until now, I haven't had to use either as Mom mainly took care of Dad with his Alzheimer until his death in 2016.

0 Kudos
1,391 Views
1
Report
Regular Contributor

If there is some money to afford an attorney, yes, I would see one over the what-ifs and likely scenarios helping a parent as they age, and how the money should be structurd, like in a trust, so she owns nothing on paper. If she has good insurance coverage from work or a Medicare supplement, all the better, though I am unclear how much home care and for how long either of these cover. What happens if she has a stroke? Or develops Alzheimer Disease? How can you afford to keep her at home without ever running into Medicaid payback? A lawyer dealing with these possibilities would best know. My mother was born poor and disadvantaged, so the rules are quite different. The goal was to keep her at home and I never saw it coming that 1) rules would make it difficult for me to get her UTI diagnosed and treated in a timely matter, leading to a no-injury fall, but also demonstrated she needed rehabilitation for arm strenght to get in and out of chairs, PT that is extremely difficult to get without a means of showing up at a PT practice in-person (a Medicaid medical transport issue), 2) nursing-home PT would lead to indoctrination in a vulnerable individual. I never dreamed my mother would ever die in a local nursing home and not at home. When I checked her out all the last placements, she was dying to come home to see her cat. I did discharge her from the last nursing home, and she was different, was convinced she needed to go back, and was afraid she would die in her bed if left alone that night. I tried to convince her that I had witnessed her getting in and out of chairs just fine. She persisted, and within an hour I was calling the nursing home to take her back and was locating someone who could drive my car to take us there. 

 

An another example of indoctrination I saw on the day she died and someone gave me a ride there to get her things. The roommate seemed very nice on a prior visit, and was appaarently highly functioning with her adeptness at using a cell phone. It also started out cool that morning and then got hot. The A/C had been removed from the window, and the window could only open about a half inch on either side, so I slipped my arms out of my sweater as I worked packing. She took off and came back with an aide who told me to cover up. I protested a bit, that I was not exposed and that the sun and the physical activirty was making me hot. Then came the implied threat, "Are you going to cover up or not?" Fearing the "or else" would be a call to the police, and how the complaint could be bent into a charge, and I would lose the opportunity to sift throught the junk to find the few worthwhile items, I put my arms back into my sleeves as I was almost done. I was not exposed. I have seen much, much more in women's locker rooms. However, I have seen aides tell women, including those wit mastectomies to "cover your boobies," including one who had had a double mastectomy. i remember thinking, "What boobies?" and "I wonder if they tell the men the same thing if they unbutton their shirts. The final very sour note on my last visit to that awful place. Will never forget it, that's for sure. I have it my medical chart "no nursing home." 

0 Kudos
1,347 Views
0
Report
cancel
Showing results for 
Show  only  | Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Users
Need to Know

AARP LIMITED TIME OFFER: Cyber Week Sale! Join or renew for just $9 per year when you sign up for a 5-year term. AARP Membership Cyber Week Sale

More From AARP