I live in New Jersey; recently I became representative payee for my mother who is SSI recipient. I was given the booklet how to manage her funds.
So, I went and opened representative payee account (just 3 visits to the bank and everything was done). I forwarded her SSI payment to that account and in the beginning it seemed so easy. It is checking account and all expenses could be listed on the statement and all I have to do is summarize them and report to SSI when requested.
But this simple thing is not as simple in real life. I take care of 2 elderly parents. They both are 84. I have full time job in Queens (2 hours each way). Sometimes, things which are so simple like separating shopping in two parts, for mom and the rest of the family and paying for her shopping separately from mine with her credit card is not possible. And what if my daughter bought something. As a result in 1 month I end up with wallet full of receipts and a lot of questions. I tool few hours off my job and went to SSI office.
1. Am I allowed to save some money to burial expenses? None of the arrangements done, no grave, no funeral home, nothing and with today’s prices it is a fortune. They say in the booklet that I am allowed to pay for ‘recreation’. There is not much recreation for 84 year old person with Alzheimer’s and 2 broken hips, so I wanted to know if I can save for funeral instead of recreation.
2. In the booklet is said that it is legal to buy TV using SSI payment even if the SSI recipient is not the only person using this TV, but in the same time, I was told that it is not legal to use SSI payment for paying for cable TV. I had to get cable, because my mother stopped understanding English shows and I had to install Russian TV, so she has some kind of entertainment
3. I am out of the house for 12 hours/day. Home attendant comes for 3 hours/day. We are running like crazy trying not to leave my mother alone, but sometimes we need help. Sometimes I pay for it, sometimes I can’t pay, because friends would not take money, but I still am trying to compensate them somehow with the gift now and then. So how do I report these expenses?
4. I wish I would be able not to charge my mother for leaving with us, but I have huge credit card bills, which were created when I lost 2/3 of my pay check after 09/11. and another parent who just came from overseas and has no income and doesn’t have any benefits. Another words, I am broke. So I asked if I can take money for mom’s share of utility bills. And how should I report all this, because the bills are not in her name, this is private house.
The lady in SSI office I think felt that I am going crazy and told me that I am complicating my life. That being that my mother lives in private house I have the right to take her share of expenses for rent and utility. And being that my mortgage is $1600. /month and there is 5 of us including mom in the house and utilities are around $450. /month, I can deduct $320. For mortgage and $90. for utilities and it is going to be easier to report other expenses with $300. left of her check.
Now I have another question, if I am deducting her share of $1600. mortgage. It means that I am charging my mother $320. rent. Is it going to be considered as income for me and I would need to pay taxes for this amount?
I would appreciate any advice I can get. So, please, everybody who is in the same situation and knows what is involved in caring for elderly person and being representative payee, please, share your experience with me.