The Times Herald (Norristown, PA) - - BUSI­NESS -

Ad­min­is­tra­tion of changes in your cir­cum­stances that could af­fect your abil­ity to con­tinue to serve as rep payee;

• Com­plete writ­ten re­ports ac­count­ing for the use of funds; and

• Re­turn any pay­ments to which the ben­e­fi­ciary is not en­ti­tled to the So­cial Se­cu­rity Ad­min­is­tra­tion.

You can­not be com­pen­sated for your du­ties as rep­re­sen­ta­tive payee or use a ben­e­fi­ciary’s money for your per­sonal ex­penses. You can­not put a ben­e­fi­ciary’s So­cial Se­cu­rity or SSI funds in your or an­other’s ac­count. How­ever, you can be re­im­bursed for out-of-pocket ex­penses that you ad­vance for the ben­e­fi­ciary. If you do this, you should keep records of the ex­pense.

The So­cial Se­cu­rity Ad­min­is­tra­tion rec­om­mends that the funds be used for cur­rent needs of the per­son you are rep­re­sent­ing such as food, cloth­ing, shel­ter and med­i­cal needs or con­served or in­vested in in­ter­est bear­ing ac­counts or in sav­ings bonds.

If the ben­e­fi­ciary is re­ceiv­ing care in a fa­cil­ity and is not on Med­i­caid or is not in a Med­i­caid cer­ti­fied fa­cil­ity, then the SSA states that the high­est pri­or­ity should be given to the ben­e­fi­ciary’s cur­rent main­te­nance in­clud­ing not just in­sti­tu­tional charges but pay­ment for items that will aid in re­cov­ery or re­lease from the fa­cil­ity or im­prov­ing the ben­e­fi­ciary’s con­di­tion while there. This could in­clude tem­po­rar­ily main­tain­ing the ben­e­fi­ciary’s res­i­dence and, in some cases, as­sis­tance with de­pen­dent spouse or chil­dren.

Where Med­i­caid is or may be­come in­volved, mat­ters can be­come more com­pli­cated. The Med­i­caid cer­ti­fied in­sti­tu­tion might be­come rep­re­sen­ta­tive payee or, if you con­tinue to han­dle the ac­counts, you need to co­or­di­nate with Med­i­caid in­come and as­set re­quire­ments. SSI re­cip­i­ents are limited re­gard­ing the amount per­mit­ted to re­main in their ac­count, gen­er­ally $2,000 for in­di­vid­u­als, $3,000 for cou­ples. If you have ques­tions re­gard­ing use of the funds, check with the So­cial Se­cu­rity Ad­min­is­tra­tion. As rep­re­sen­ta­tive payee you are act­ing in a trusted po­si­tion. You are a fidu­ciary. Funds im­prop­erly paid or han­dled could be or­dered re­turned or there could be civil or crim­i­nal li­a­bil­ity. Janet Col­li­ton, Esq. is a Cer­ti­fied El­der Law At­tor­ney and lim­its her prac­tice, to el­der law, re­tire­ment and es­tate plan­ning, Med­i­caid, Medi­care, life care, and spe­cial needs at 790 E. Mar­ket St., Suite 250, West Ch­ester, Pa., 19382, 610-4366674, col­li­ton@col­li­ton­law. com. She is a mem­ber of the Na­tional Academy of El­der Law At­tor­neys and, with Jef­frey Jones, CSA, co­founder of Life Tran­si­tion Ser­vices, LLC, a ser­vice for fam­i­lies with long term care needs. Tune in on Wed­nes­days at 4 p.m. to ra­dio WCHE 1520, “50+ Plan­ning Ahead,” with Janet Col­li­ton, Col­li­ton El­der Law As­so­ci­ates, and Phil McFad­den, Home In­stead Se­nior Care.

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