By Betty Berry, Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2010  Q: I have been told that Social Security has a program to assist individuals who cannot manage their financial affairs. Can you provide some details?

A: There is such a program for people who receive Social Security and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and are not able to handle their own financial affairs.

After a thorough investigation, Social Security will appoint an interested third party to handle the Social Security benefits.

The appointee is called a representative payee and the Social Security and/or SSI benefits due the beneficiary are made payable in the representative payee’s name on behalf of the beneficiary.

The representative payee has many important responsibilities. The benefits received must be used only for the personal care and well-being of the beneficiary. Any excess must be saved for that beneficiary.

Social Security must be kept informed of any events that might affect eligibility for benefits. An annual accounting report must be filed with Social Security showing how the money received was spent or saved.

If you would like more information on the representative payee program you can go to Social Security’s website,

Q: My father, a widower, lives some distance away, and I am considering having him live with us but have heard negative comments about such arrangements. Do you have any suggestions on how to make it work?

A: I, too, have heard negative comments about sharing a home. However, I have also heard of situations where it worked out very well. No two situations are alike, but some advance planning can certainly ease the way.

Open communication is probably the most important factor for success. First you and your spouse, if you are married, must discuss the idea and face the changes that will take place in your lives. A dual commitment will go far in resolving problems.

It is also important that your father be part of the decision-making process. He will be giving up a lot of his independence and needs to feel that his moving in will not create a burden on your lifestyle.

Of course, physical logistics will need to be worked out. The ideal plan would provide your father with a room and bath of his own. A separate telephone line and television set would contribute to everyone’s privacy. If private quarters are not feasible then some guidelines for this sharing will provide for necessary privacy and space.

Most elders need and want to feel that they belong. By allowing your father to take on some responsibilities he will feel he is contributing to the family unit. A family meeting is a great way of establishing rules, responsibilities and tasks, including financial arrangements, if applicable.

If all parties know what to expect there is less chance of hurt feelings or conflict.

Attitude can make or break a situation. If the arrangement is seen as a burden, it will become one. However, if it is considered an opportunity you’ll likely have success.

Keep a sense of humor and good luck!


Oct. 22: 9-11:30 a.m, Panel Presentation, Financial Self Defense for Seniors and soon-to-be Seniors, Goebel Senior Adult Center, 1385 E. Janss Road, Thousand Oaks. Learn how to protect and empower yourself from scams and frauds. Refreshments will be served.

For information and reservations call 381-2744.

— Betty Berry is a senior advocate for Senior Concerns. The advocates are at the Goebel Senior Adult Center, 1385 E. Janss Road, Thousand Oaks, CA 91362; or call 495-6250 or e-mail (please include your telephone number). You are invited to submit questions on senior issues.

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