Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

SSI approved..any advice on the next steps?

My SZ son will be coming home next week from the group home he’s been in since March and just found out his SSI was approved. What should I know about concerning the SSI as I think he can pay us (his parents) room and board. Should we set up a checking account with his and our name on it or become his legal guardians to control his money matters?

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Depends on how he is with money. If he can manage it himself, then having a checking account set up for direct deposit will be enough. You can decide if you will be on the account on it or not. But if your name is on it, remember you can be held responsible for overdrafts.

You don’t have to become a legal guardian to become a Rep Payee. If you become a Rep Payee, the payments would be deposited in an account that he does not have access to, and you will dispense the funds as appropriate. Rep Payees are required to make provide a yearly report on how the funds are being spent.

Another thing to consider is whether your son is receiving Medicaid. There may be an upper balance that your son needs to stay UNDER. The same is also true for continuing to receive SSI. If he is going to receive a lump sum backpayment, you should make some decisions on how that money will be used.

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Thanks for the great info Vallpen! He is receiving Medicaid and will get a back dated payment going back into 2016 upon his 1st hospitalization when he was diagnosed. Is it a complicated process becoming a rep payee if my son agrees to this? Not sure if he will…

It is not a complicated process. SS will help you set it up. You can probably find more information about it on their website.

Your son doesn’t necessarily have to agree. SS tries to ensure their funds are going to be used appropriately, and will assign a rep payee if it can be shown one is needed.

Some mental health agencies will act as rep payee so family doesn’t have to.

If your son is at risk of using illicit drugs or alcohol to excess or has been taken advantage of or has wildly mismanaged money, he needs a rep payee until he is completely stable and able to manage his money in his own best interest.

This is how it worked for us…
My son was approved for SSI. A first monthly check was deposited into his checking account. Then, I got a letter saying something like “We have determined that ______ may require a Rep Payee. Please come to an appointment on _______”. We both went to that appointment and I had to make it clear that my son was not responsible with money. I was assigned as Rep Payee. I set up a Rep Payee account at my bank. The money goes into my account each month. I give him an allowance, pay his car insurance, pay his phone, etc. with the money.

If I wasn’t the Rep Payee, I’d be even more of a nervous wreck than I already am.

Just to be on the safe side. I’d be guardian/rep payee at least until he has a solid amount of time of being stable and compliant under his belt. Test the waters before turning it all over to him. Stress is a big factor in stability and sometimes what seems to be a minor thing to us (like paying bills etc…) can be very stressful for someone trying to recover with a mental illness. Good luck!

THANK YOU all for the great info! One thing I forgot to ask is would my son get Medicare to replace his Medicaid - or is that only when SSDI is approved (my son was denied SSDI)?

In the state of Ohio my son got straight Medicaid for I believe the first 1 or 2 years and then it became a combination of Medicaid and Medicare, he did have SSDI which later became half SSDI and then half SSI on my record because he was found disabled before the age of 22. He still gets both Medicaid and Medicare though and it is combined under an Aetna My Care plan here in Ohio. He is 33 now. I am guessing it could vary from state to state. I would call Medicaid and ask.

My son was finally approved for SSI in May and it was required that he have a rep payee (which he agreed should be me.) Also, they said he was qualified for Medicare and he’s been enrolled. They also sent an application partially filled out for the State of CA to have him apply for financial help for a medicare supplement plan.

Hope this helps. My son is 38.

In the state of Illinois, where my daughter was approved for SSI, we were told at the approval interview that we would need a representative payee and that she would not be permitted to manage her money. I volunteered and we set up the account as follows: “RP Name [me] FBO Daughter’s Name”. FBO means “For the Benefit Of” and indicates the legal status of the account. I write and sign all checks and manage the account and online payments. It is separate from other accounts so that I can easily demonstrate that the funds are used solely for her care and upkeep. She can live anywhere, even in a residence owned by a family member, and reasonable rent and household and living expenses can be charged, as well as cell phone, auto insurance, etc.

Thank you so much for the helpful details! I live in WI so not sure if this is similar to what you experienced. I will watch the mail to see if SSI sends to my son the info for a meeting like you describe.

This helps tremendously! Thank you so much for the details! I’m thinking SSI may have us as his parents as rep payees - as our son just came home from the group home to live with us again.

It is easy to become the representative payee. Go to Social Security with him. Tell you son you will manage his money for a while and will explain to him what you are paying. Social Security will want an accounting at year end (they will send a form) so keep detailed records.

You can pay yourself (parents) for rent. But if he lives somewhere else and you supplement the rent then that will decrease the amount he receives each money. Read everything they give you and look for a booklet to explain the representative payee process online and how SSI works.

Not knowing how old the parent are, but my son was eligible for SSDI (different program) as he was disabled before age 23 when his father was 65 and retired. He gets about $500 more per month.

Also note, that assisted living places want to be the representative payee and will take his SSI check for rent. If you are the payee they often will want more for rent ( like the SSDI amount). Very tricky. Ask lots of questions.

I hope he and you do well with this transition!

He will be getting a lump sum from 2016, alot of money. I put my son’s lump sum in a separate savings and never told him about it, he would of blew it, not responsible enough. Now 5 years later, I told him about it so he could buy a car with 1/2 of it. And I no longer had to be his schauffer.
Something to think about.

They actually require you to have a payee? How do they know right away that your not gonna be good with money? When I was first approved for ssdi they call me and told me. They asked if I wanted a payee I said no.

My son was required to have a payee also. They decided to require one from the information submitted on his application and the supporting documentation from his doctor.

They did require him to sign to agree for me to be his payee rep. The SS caseworker just told him something like “everyone thinks it would be best if your mom handled things” and asked him if he would sign, showing him the place to sign. After he did, she told him he could go to the parking lot to wait for me while she went over stuff with me. He was happy to comply, he was eager to leave. He had agreed to come because they required that they actually see him at some point in the process. All of his applying had been done online. I think he also had to show her his driver’s license as proof of his identity.

The caseworker was really good with him, she didn’t upset him by talking about his mental illness, she made sure he wasn’t in the waiting room very long and she let him go to the parking lot as soon as she could.

It was a scary day for me. I was afraid they would say the wrong thing and he would have an episode in their office. The caseworker must have had a lot of experience, she was respectful with him and careful about what she said.

Did you have a lawyer do the SSI application? Trying to decide to go it alone or get an attorney specializing in it.

We used Binder & Binder, a national advocacy firm, after having two appeals denied. I’m not sure that we wouldn’t have won anyway, but they did know to request some info and present it in a way that helped. And maybe was critical. They work on receiving 1/4 of past due payments to a maximum of $6000.

Hope this helps.