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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2011

    Question Authorized Deductions for Representative Payee of SSI Recipient

    Hello everyone,

    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.

    Sincerely, Luba

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2009

    Default Re: Authorized Deductions for Representative Payee of SSI Recipient

    I agree that you are complicating your life unnecessarily.

    I have two questions: Are these two parents that you are taking care of, are they husband and wife living in the same house? That needs to be reported to SSI, the husband has to be listed on the record (assuming he has an SSN) whether or not he has income, but especially if he does.

    Does your mother have income other than SSI? Is she being paid the full Federal Benefit Rate of $674 or has SSI been counting in-kind income?

    The primary reason there is even an SSI program is to be sure that elderly and disabled US residents have a source of income that can be used to pay for their food and shelter, so they are not hungry and homeless. So is it not illegal or immoral to use SSI benefits for food and shelter bills. The issue of payment of food and shelter is so integral to SSI that recipients who don't pay for food and shelter are considered to have in-kind income which can reduce the federal benefit by 1/3. There are many SSI questions and reporting responsibilities that have to do with payment of food and shelter. You may have a personal aversion to charging your parent for food and shelter, or it may not be your cultural or familial expectation, but that is a personal decision for you to make. The federal SSI portion will then be reduced by 1/3. Generally, SSI considers her share to be the total mortgage, property taxes, property insurance, gas, electricity, water, sewer, garbage, heating fuel and food expenses divided by the number of people in the house. Those are the basics of having a roof over your head and food in your stomach. There are some household where the expenses are so high that there is no way that the SSI recipient can pay their share. That means they are not paying the full value of their food and shelter, it is counted as income for SSI and reduces the ssi

    It is not illegal to pay for cable TV if food and shelter is taken care of.

    If your friends volunteer to stay with your mother without pay and you choose to give them a gift, use your own money. Nothing needs to be reported or tracked. Burial Spaces Burial funds

    Burial funds need to kept separate and designated as such and not mingled with other money.

    Not going to answer your income tax question but there are many people who live with other adults and share expenses. Ask your tax preparer.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2011

    Default Re: Authorized Deductions for Representative Payee of SSI Recipient

    Thank you so much for your reply, Janke.
    My parents are divorced for 40 years. My fahter's second wife passed away couple years ago and he is almost blind, so he can't really live alone and i brought him here and he is getting nothing from the government, because i am responsible for all his expenses.
    My mother is getting maximum SSI -$705.00
    My mother as of right now doesn't have any burial spaces or funds, i was trying to find out if i can use part of her check to start prepaying for these expenses

    My mother gets $705.00+$95. in food stamps=$800.00

    $320. is her share of mortgage
    $90. is Her share of utilities
    $250. is her share of food
    totals to $660.00

    So she has $140. balance. Once in a while i need to buy some clothing for her, but old people don't need that much.It means that if i will save this balance , in a little bit over 1 year, she will have more then $2000. and i will have to give this back to the government, in the mean time i will be paying for burial and sitters and other things. this is why i am trying to find out if it is legal for me to use the balance and start prepaying funeral costs.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2009

    Default Re: Authorized Deductions for Representative Payee of SSI Recipient

    Did you read the links to the burial space and burial funds exclusion that I provided? I suggest you read those and then talk to your local office about your plans so they can give you specific answers.

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