Tuesday, March 17, 2015

SSI Representative Payee

We have been plugging along at getting Thomas through all of the paperwork for Social Security in order to get his first check. He was determined "disabled" (I hate that word) at the beginning of December and we haven't seen a cent of the money he is owed. Apparently our local Social Security office is bogged down so things are going along at a

very.

slow.

pace.

Currently what we are waiting on is for Thomas's bank to release information about what is in Thomas's account (next to nothing) and then hopefully we'll be home free. One never knows though since I only just found out they needed a signature on a bank form to release that information. There could be more things I don't know about.

What did come yesterday was a letter addressed directly to Thomas (as opposed to me: Melanie Jimenez FOR Thomas Emery). It outlined what it meant to have a representative payee and it had a brochure in it explaining my specific tasks as his payee. I brought it to him and explained the letter a little bit and I pointed out to him that it was sent to him and that I am becoming his payee because he has been "considered to be unable to handle his own finances."

Honestly I wasn't sure how he was going to handle that particular wording since right now I would say he's totally okay with handling money. Well...not TOTALLY okay. If he were on his own, handling finances properly would be a challenge. With his tiny paychecks he gets he is very thoughtful about how he spends his money and I feel like he's doing pretty good with that. However, managing paying rent and budgeting for groceries and paying the phone bill are not something he does. It was the wording of the letter that got me, though, because it really made him sound like an idiot. I explained to him that I applied to be a payee because if he were to get sick and be hospitalized for a while, he would need someone to handle his money and pay his bills. I said that the whole thing rested solely on the thought that he could get sick and that he'd need my help. I told him that it's much easier to be designated the payee at the beginning of the SSI application process then to turn around after it's been established and try to get me on as payee. He seemed okay with it but it was interesting to me what he did next.

I handed him the brochure and letter and I asked him if he wanted it in his room or out on his table. Usually he can't be bothered with stuff from Social Security but this letter and brochure he took from me straight away and began to read it. I wondered what was at the source of that. I hear about how some of our loved ones with schizophrenia get an "independence streak" in them and they insist on handling everything themselves and I thought that might be what is happening with Thomas. Was he considering firing me as payee? He certainly seemed interested in the whole thing so it made me wonder.

He read it and came out of his room and handed it to me and said nothing.

Okay.

Good.

I guess.

I guess what I need to do is ask him how he feels about the whole thing. I know that he's feeling pretty healthy right now and wanting independence so he may see me being his payee as a roadblock to that independence. It makes me nervous, though, because sure, he's fine right now, or fine enough, I guess, but what if he gets really sick? If that happens and I'm the one who has to pick up the pieces of his financial life then how am I going to be able to do that with him locked behind a hospital door holding all of the responsibility for his money?

So, I suppose that's a conversation that I need to have with him today. He has a right to his opinion and I value it but at the same time he has to see the future and it's potential for pitfalls and he has to accept that things aren't always going to be like they are right now. Stability isn't promised, not by a long shot, and being the person I am that can see the entire picture which includes the reality of what can happen in the future, I really feel I need to keep ahold of this whole thing and from there teach Thomas about budgeting and managing money for living.

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