Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Payee Services Questions


My mother is 75 years old and lives on a very fixed income.

Last year she started bouncing checks because she couldn't keep her account balanced.

She would go to the bank or an ATM to check her balance and think that was how much money she had. She no longer understood that outstanding checks can take days, weeks, even months to clear.

I had to pony up $275 just to get her account back up to a zero balance, have my name added to her account so that I could monitor things, and take her check book away from her.

I let her keep the ATM card because I didn't want to have to drive 30 miles everytime she needed gas (mom quit driving a few years ago. my sister...don't even get me started on her...drives mom's car and takes her to the grocery store and doctor's appointments) or groceries.

Even that isn't working out. Some of her bills are ACH (Automated Clearing House) deductions from her account that don't transact until later in the month. She forgets about them, spends the money she thinks she has, and then the ACH transactions generate NSF fees.

It's been a real struggle.

Recently, she was contacted by an outfit who told her that for just $32.00 a month, they could take her SS check, pay all of her bills, and give her $150.00 a month for groceries.

Since that sounded too good to be true, I assumed it was.

I told her not to do anything until I did some research.

The company is called "For Safe Keeping, Inc."

I googled them and got a big goose egg.

That bothered me.

I searched from a few different angles and found the following:

The KC BBB hasn't had any complaints about them in the past 36 months.

They are listed in the Social Security MHTS Catalog as a Payee Services provider.

I have to admit, it would be a huge weight off my shoulders to know that her basic financial needs were being administered by someone far more organized and responsible than her oldest son.



But I know absolutley nothing about this company, the whole Fee For Services program or how this all works.

Do any of you have any experience with this company or this type of arrangement? I want my mother to live independently for as long as possible, but things are getting dicey.

I have a very selfish interest here as well. How I deal with my mother in her dotage will no doubt serve as the template for how my daughter, young Galadriel Tanqueray Onassis, will deal with me in mine.

She already wants to have me committed everytime I say "fo shizzle" or "whatev!"

I need some guidance.

26 comments:

"The D" said...

Sorry buddy no advice but if the SSA says they are ok Id keep digging try the National Better Business Bureau and other states.

On another note, HOLY FUCK, YOU HAD HAIR ONCE? Although not much. How old are you in that pic? 16?

Xavier Onassis said...

Of course I had hair (and only 2 balls)!

I was like 22 or 23.

It was the the mid 70's! We all looked like that!

meesha.v said...

You used up all of your lifetime supply of hair cells on that one haircut. Is that an ice cream truck behind you?
Anyway, I wouldn't trust any of my stuff to anyone even if they paid me $32. SS numbers,bank accounts, I have hard enough time giving them out to more trustworthy places. The number from BBB goes back to some personal line.. Call the person,ask for references.
I think you can limit your mom's checkbook screw-ups by taking her ATM card away, and getting her a straight (not credit) gas card for a gas station of her choice and have bills forwarded to you. For grocery shopping you can buy gift cards. Give her some emergency cash,maybe re-loadable credit card,like they make for teens. Have all utility bills sent to you. That should have most of the stuff covered.

Spyder said...

Good luck!

Keri Oki said...

I'd be nervous about it. Like a lot -- not your hair silly - the SSA thing.

Seems to me that it's too good to be true --

Let me check with my friends in the industry and see what they can offer-- stay tuned -- and good luck - taking care of aging parents is absolutely horrid.

mainstream said...

It's too good to be true. Take over her checkbook, pls.

Midtown Miscreant said...

Cant you set all of her bills up as automatic debit, and as Meesha suggested , the prepaid visa card should prevent overdrafts. Maybe Im over simplfiying things, but it would seem once you have it all set up, it should be worry free.
And why do I get the feeling you have earth shoes on in that picture and fleetwood mac in the 8 track with a match book wedged to make it play right.

Xavier Onassis said...

meesha - yes, that's an ice cream truck. I was an ice cream truck driver. I drove at 3 mph and rang a bell for a living. It's one of the few jobs you can do while you are stoned.

It was 1976. Carter was President.

The rest of your advice is very sound and all options I have considered. And am still considering.

keri - "Let me check with my friends in the industry and see what they can offer-- stay tuned"

Wow. I have people. How cool is that? Thanks, keri!

H-Train said...

Ice cream truck driver??? I always thought only child molesters drove ice cream trucks.

You look better without the hair. Or maybe it's just that haircut.

Xavier Onassis said...

midtown - some of her bills vary each month. Makes it hard to come up with a firm "this is what you have every month" amount that she can deal with. That's what makes me skeptical about this whole deal.

And no to the earth shoes (they made it feel like you were walking uphill all the time).

Never cared that much for Fleetwood Mac and thought that Stevie Nicks was a whiney little egotistic bitch who thought she was a lot hotter than she really was.

But yeah, I would have tapped that. At least once.

I miss the way the longer album sides on 8 track tapes (like In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida) would "fade" before they clicked over to the next track and then build again.

Like that's the way it was supposed to be.

You almost expected them to recreate that live, in concert at Memorial Hall or the Cowtown Ballroom.

Never used a matchbook.

Usually started with a quarter. Coins are easier to stack to get the right amount of traction. A wrap of scotch tape finished the fix.

Xavier Onassis said...

"Ice cream truck driver??? I always thought only child molesters drove ice cream trucks."

I always liked it when the soccer-MILFs interupted their sunbathing long enough to come out to help their kids pick out a popscicle.

"You look better without the hair. Or maybe it's just that haircut."

Thanks. If I had known, I'd have started shaving my head back in 1972.

Who knew?

SmedRock said...

Talk to her bank and see what options you have. They should at leats be able to point you in the right direction.

Good luck.

travel said...

Sorry to have to say this, but I don't think it's too early to check into assisted living for your mom. Most decent places have a long waiting list...sometimes a couple of years. Medicaid pays for assisted living by taking the ss check of the person and leaving a little bit for personal expenses. Of course they will also take her house and other property she may have worth over a small amount (I think a couple thousand dollars).

My advice would be to see an attorney about getting the above ball rolling or a social service agency. Things happen fast to older people I'm sorry to say, but I've experienced it with my mom and I know the earlier you try to find the best place for her, the better off you and she will be.

Now, about the pic...those chubby cheeks were just pinchable cutie pie.

travel said...

Oh, and by assisted living I'm not talking about nursing homes. Assisted living places have small apartments..usually a small kitchen/living/dining room and a bedroom and they provide a couple of meals a day for the residents and watch over them to make sure they're ok but it's not like a nursing home..no nursing care, etc. I don't know where she lives now, but it sure wouldn't hurt to check out places like that near where she lives or near you or other family members.

DLC said...

There is an organization called Budget and Financial Management Assistance based in Kansas City. I saw this on their DonorEdge profile: Promotes self sufficiency for mentally and physically disabled persons by provides budget and cash management counseling. BFMA receives funds and conducts bill payment services. BFMA engages in advocacy with landlords, utilities companies social security and other entities until the client becomes self sufficient

There is a phone number on that profile page.

Keri Oki said...

I'm actually now obsessed about this topic - and part of my business includes providing advocacy services for seniors trying to live independently - I'd be more than happy to help your mom and I woulodn't even charge $75/month -- stay away from this service - it just doesn't seem right -- besides I'm looking for new activities!

Logtar said...

Never heard of them... but I think she needs a "spending money" account. Something that would make it easier for her, or maybe just have your sister pull out cash and her to manage the money through the ATM.

Nuke said...

My father became Payee for several elderly clients when he retired from the Bank he worked at. He doesn't get $75 a month per person by any stretch. Of course he's in a small town up north.

His advice would be to ask her bank if they have any persons/companies they have worked with (he was at a small bank where they would have known that stuff).

It is also possible she has friends using this kind of service, maybe she can get a reference.

As to this particular company, it sounds OK, it's on the list, but I dunno.

Banky the Hack said...

XO,

I'm no financial guru, but you might be able to set up a Living Trust. You could set up all her assets in the trust and could deem ANYONE access to the trust that you saw fit to administer her affairs. Hell, you might find someone who might do it for 50 dollars a month or less if all it amounts to is paying her bills. The minute you saw anything improper going on, you could revoke their access.

This seems safer than simply turning over all her assets to someone you will really never feel that comfortable with. My two cents. . .

Maine Gay said...

I remember having to deal with these same issues with my mother and grandmother as they got older.

Its tough, but I found that I was a far better bet to handle things properly than an outsider.

If she's having problems understanding her bank balance - no ATM card. I would suggest a loadable credit card for purchases. But be aware, if my experience is any guide, she may lose track of whats available on that, too - leading to embarassing situations at restaurants and grocery stores.

I actually set aside money from my income each month to be able to supplement them when they ran low on cash. It was embarassing for them to ask, so I offered it up as a surprise - usually around the 20th of the month - to help out.

This is a difficult issue. I empathise with you like you wouldn't believe.

Stinkbait Boucher said...

I can't offer any advice here I fear so I'll just clutter up the space by apologizing for that.

What's really motivating me is the groovy picture in which you seem reminiscent of a younger John Lithgow.

Separated at birth anyone? You be the judge.

Also - if you're still reading this far in - my place has moved to "trelvix.com" - if you feel like puttering with your links I would be most obliged!

Good luck fighting the good fight.

Xavier Onassis said...

"I'm actually now obsessed about this topic - and part of my business includes providing advocacy services for seniors trying to live independently - I'd be more than happy to help your mom..."

I'd love to take you up on this Keri. But it seems like you are going to be consumed and distracted by a lot of other stuff in the near future. And I'm feeeling a pretty urgent need to act quickly.

travel - "Sorry to have to say this, but I don't think it's too early to check into assisted living for your mom." I know. I've been thinking along those same lines.

smedrock - "Talk to her bank and see what options you have."

nuke - "His advice would be to ask her bank if they have any persons/companies they have worked with (he was at a small bank where they would have known that stuff)."

Her bank is Bank of America. The largest bank in the country. They don't give a flying fuck at a rolling donut.

maine - "I actually set aside money from my income each month to be able to supplement them when they ran low on cash."

I wish I could.

Midtown Miscreant said...

XO , believe it or not I was just getting ready to say your 70's pic looked like a young Lithgow. Stinkbait beat me to it. Good call on SB's part, not so much for you though.

On a serious note, Im sure you'll get your mom all figured out, good luck to ya.

Xavier Onassis said...

MM - I just wish stinknbait hadn't linked to a picture of Lithgow in drag.

He didn't have to go there.

There was no call for that.

Stinkbait Boucher said...

He was in drag?

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