Summarizing the phone call, the woman was saying "I'm just trying to help my Dad and you are not letting me even though I have power of attorney" while the Social Security representative was trying to explain how the matter at hand could be taken care of.
Many readers are in or approaching their own retirement and, not surprisingly, have parents who look to them to handle some chores including contacting Social Security upon occasion.
Today the topic is how to do so.
Howard I. Kossover
Before Social Security can change a record, for example updating an address, we must verify not only who is contacting us but that they are the proper person to work with. If Dad calls SSA himself, the representative verifies his identity and then takes action because he is calling about his own checks. If a change involved both members of a couple, we speak to both. If you are helping a parent, one way is for you both to be by the phone. After speaking to Mom or Dad to verify their identity, they could tell the SSA representative to speak to you and then hand over the phone. Some actions can be completed online at (www.socialsecurity.gov).
Power of attorney
What about power of attorney? Power of attorney is a legal process where one individual grants a third party the authority to transact certain business for that individual. They can be for different purposes but overall are not recognized by the Treasury Department for purposes of negotiating federal payments, including Social Security or Supplemental Security Income checks.
In short, Social Security cannot recognize power of attorney. You might consider this a burden but SSA is trying to protect beneficiaries.
Perhaps Mom or Dad is no longer capable of taking care of their business and you now handle all their affairs. If so, file application to be representative payee. A representative payee is an individual or organization appointed by Social Security to receive SSA/SSI benefits for a person who cannot manage or direct someone else to manage his or her money. Acting on behalf of the beneficiary, a payee is responsible for everything related to SSA/SSI benefits that a capable beneficiary would do for himself or herself.
Appointment of a payee is not taken lightly. Adult beneficiaries are presumed to be capable of managing their own benefits. Evidence must be obtained to establish need to appoint a representative payee.
Being appointed means a representative payee agrees to follow SSA rules for handling SSA-related funds and reports on how funds are used. This helps protect beneficiaries. Even if you have power of attorney or are guardian for a parent, file a representative payee application if they are incapable of managing their own benefits. To learn more, go to (www.socialsecurity.gov/payee) or read "A Guide For Representative Payees," available from any SSA office and online at (www.ssa.gov/pubs/10076.html).
Contact the Social Security Administration in several ways. Visit the SSA website at (www.socialsecurity.gov) for information, retirement planning tools and online retirement and Medicare applications. Call the SSA national toll-free number 800-772-1213 (TTY 800-325-0778) (7 a.m. to 7 p.m.) about your benefits or to make an appointment. Reach the Minot office directly at 866- 415-3193 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Howard I. Kossover is the Social Security Public Affairs Specialist for North Dakota and western Minnesota. Questions of general interest can be sent to him at email@example.com.