Sunday, September 30, 2012

What Would You Do?

via dickster1961
via dickster1961
I am in a bit of a quandary regarding a situation with my son.  For those that are not regular reader of this blog, my son is a special needs adult who attends school away from home.  He is considered completely disabled, and thus is eligible and has been receiving, Supplemental Security Income benefits (SSI) through Social Security.

He has been receiving benefits from the program for a few months now.  However, they have been reducing his benefit by 1/3 as Social Security has determined that he is receiving "in kind support" from us because he is not paying rent.

The purpose of the SSI benefit is to provide funds for elderly or disabled individuals with limited assets and income.  Due to his disability, he will probably never have any form of significant income.  We are to use the funds to provide food, shelter, and any other living expenses that he might need, including entertainment.

The benefit that he receives has been a tremendous help for us.  It has allowed us to use the funds to buy a lot of the things he needs on a daily basis.  For instance, he has a tendency to break his glasses.  We have had to buy several replacement pairs for him.  Again, because of his disability, we have a lot of expenses that we would not have if he wasn't disabled.  As helpful as the benefit is, we go through it fairly quickly.  In fact, the first few months he received benefits we spent significantly more than he received.

Which brings me to the quandary.  As I mentioned, Social Security has reduced his benefit by 1/3 of what he is eligible to receive.  In speaking with them, it is because he is living with us and has no rent expense, though we do buy his own food for him.  Social Security told me that if I were to write a letter to them stating that my son is paying rent, as well as paying for his own food, that they would consider raising his benefit to the full amount.

When I began working, I contributed to my family by giving money to my parents for "room and board."  Since my son never really had any income, we never really considered charging him rent.  I had always hoped that I would not have to ever charge my son rent, especially once we found out that he was disabled. If my son was in a group home, they would charge him rent, and he would get his full benefit.

If I were to charge my son rent, he could get his full benefit, which would help us a lot in taking care of him. Were I to take money out of his benefit for "rent," a portion of that would be used for my son as there would not be enough money left to cover the other things we have used the money for.  So if you were me, would you maintain the status quo, or should I charge my son rent to get his full benefit?

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14 comments:

  1. There are no good answers with SSI. Josh is on it, and there are never-ending ethical questions. He lives much more independently than your son, so most of the choices are his to make, whatever I think of them. Can you do a monthly "money exchange where you hand him an envelope of cash and he hands it back to you as rent?"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. since my son is incapable of making these decisions on his own, I act as his representative payee, so I have control of his SSI funds. I would be able to transfer the money to my account as long as we track where the money goes.

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  2. I guess I would reluctantly charge him rent. It seems to be the best of a bad situation. You aren't being a bad parent charging your son rent (I've charged mine rent) but this is the way this game is being designed.

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  3. No question, I'd charge him 'rent' to get the complete benefit. In essence it's true, only you are using that rent money to care for him. It's a silly hoop to have to jump through, but if it helps you to take care of your son, then jump away!

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  4. Pragmatic approach seems the best option here. In essence, just because you'd be charging him rent "on paper", the end result would be more benefits for him. I see nothing wrong with going with the rent scenario if that in turn means your son getting the support he needs! Good luck, regardless of your choice!

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  5. I'm with Kianwi and Stephen. It's a bit of a shell game.
    You have a mortgage that the bank expects you to pay. If you provide $400 in care for your son out of your pocket, that mortgage may not get paid and thus the living arrangements you've made for your son are no longer there for him. I suspect you want to make it legal and get a lease document drawn up.

    I'm charging my 18 year old rent while he is not a full time student. It is to encourage his independence. Not your situation, I know.

    WG

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  6. is there no other approach - can't you appeal? If not then think about it from another angle

    Your son may be disabled, but his benefits are effectively his payslip - he may need help, but he still needs dignity, so why not "charge him a rent"

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  7. I know you are in a quandry over this, but I would charge him rent and keep it in a separate account if it makes you feel better. You can always "gift" it back to him as a need arises. The IRS allows you to gift so much to your children. This should count.

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  8. Charge him.

    These benefits are supposed to go to him, so you should do whatever it takes to get them for him.

    As far as the glasses thing is concerned, would he be able to get LASIK surgery?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't think he would cooperate with LASIK.

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  9. I'm with the majority here – charge him rent. Nothing prohibits you from then using that rental income to provide services and support for your son.

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  10. Goodness - charge him rent! There's nothing unethical about it at all. You are perfectly justifiable in collecting his full amount in order to keep him well and happy - and since he only benefits then where is the question? Best of luck on this.

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  11. I would look at which option nets the family the most money and go with that option. Those benefits are there for a reason, might as well use them.

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  12. Do you know if there is some sort of course on how to truly live large on the government's dime? For I keep hearing about all of the welfare millionaires out there from hardcore conservatives, but my own experience with S.S.I. has been a nightmare. The same applies to my mother-in-law being on medicare and regular Social Security. For we keep running into the fact that one has to be almost completely destitute before they can qualify for most benefits, which do not come even close to covering reasonable living expenses. It is having an attitude of wanting to throw the baby out with the bathwater when wanting to truly help those who are genuinely in need is good for business that I have against most hardcore conservatives, but in all fairness, there really are some who are doing quite well on welfare. How about even a correspondence course?

    ReplyDelete

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