Where Government Services Crush U.S. Financial Services Firms

ssaMy visit to the local Social Security office was incredibly prompt, professional and courteous. In order to best serve my parents needs, who are both in Assisted Living at a retirement community, and suffer from varied but moderate stages of dementia, I reached out to the Social Security Administration (SSA). My initial request was to change the address on their MEDICARE statement. It turns out that is based on the information stored with SSA, so I was referred to that agency.  The woman from SSA on the phone suggest I set an appointment. She finds and makes me one 9:04 a.m. and that is within one week of my initial phone call.

I’m told to show up with the power of attorney and the name, number and address of a doctor than can confirm why a personal representative is needed for my parents.

When I arrive at the local office today, which opened at 9:00 a.m., there is a line of people out the door. I check to see if they have appointments, and am told they are in line to get an appointment. They point me inside and I walk up to an empty window to check-in for my 9:04 a.m. appointment. I am told to take a seat and I will be called. Within a minute, I’m called. When I reach the window, the woman is friendly and I explain why I requested the appointment.

She explains that I will be asked several questions and under penalty of perjury if I provide false responses. I’m okay with that … most people know I have a truth problem … not a lying problem! She asks me several questions to confirm that there is no conservator or guardianship process in place, requests that I explain why I’m qualified to be the “personal representative” for my parents, and takes me through a battery of questions that are pre-printed on the request form I must sign to initiate this process.

Most of my initial discussions with U.S. Financial Services firms have involved them refusing to accept my parent’s power of attorney and insisting that I download their version and get it executed. When I push back, I have gotten a variety of responses that will be covered in future blogs … and that will illustrate how simple the SSA made it to deal with this growing issue for American citizens.

The woman from SSA gives me her contact information, explains how the process works and shared that I should receive a note within 2 – 3 weeks confirming how to change the address and modify the account. I walk out of my local SSA office in under 30 minutes! They have just set the benchmark on which I will be judging the other institutions who are on my list. Impressed. 

Does the Durable Power of Attorney Make Assisting a Loved One Easier?

I recommend that EVERYONE have one, but it is not as simple to use as most of us believe. medicarecaredI am embarking on a journey to use my parent’s updated Durable Power of Attorney (POA). We worked with their medical team to ensure we could have them sign a new one. The one they did in 2002 needed to be updated because MANY banks refused to accept it – several stating they would not accept one that was more than 2 years old. 

In the interim, my mom and dad helped get me access by adding me to their bank account and then helping me set up online access to several of the big accounts that needed maintenance. I am embarking on a mission to get their accounts cleaned up while I have a fresh POA. I will be sharing with you the different institutions and what they are requiring of me to get access to my parent’s accounts. It takes hours, days, weeks … so I’m thankful this isn’t a critical medical emergency because I know in that case, we would NOT have access to the accounts, information and would have to cover many of their expenses had I not been added to the bank account already.

The first one I will cover is MEDICARE. I simply wanted to update the mailing address so I called from a billing summary. The mail doesn’t forward from the Post Office change of address notice and the letters are being mailed to my parent’s in Assisted Living. Unfortunately, that means I don’t see many of the bills and notices. I called to update the address and after some time navigating the automated phone system — I finally reach a human. I’m told I have to report the change of address to the Social Security Administration (SSA). They just receive the information from SSA. The person on the phone gives me a phone number to call.

When I reach a person at SSA, she is very helpful. She explains to me that I need to come in and meet with them to request to become the “representative” for my parent’s. I can bring the POA, but the most important thing I need to bring is the number to the doctor that will confirm my parent’s are unable to handle their own affairs. She offers to set an appointment and is surprised to find me one next week.

I will share with you how that meeting goes … next Wednesday … starting at 9:04 a.m. Endeavored.