Hello, my disabled mother receives SSI/Medicaid and is expecting to get about $12000 from a car accident settlement. Of that amount, she will probably receive about $6000. We are planning to make purchases online and buy furnishings in a regular store. I will help her order a $1000 laptop, clothing, bedding's, etc ONLINE (due to her limited mobility and limited English) and furnishings in a regular store. Is it okay for me to order stuff online for her, with permission? Will social security be satisfied with order print outs as proof that the money were spent? Is there a special spend down period that protects her SSI? Can her father go to our local SSA office as her representative to deal with all of this (with a signed statement from her) She has no payee.
To spend down excess money and get below the SSI resource limit, it is best if you first understand what SSI will "count" versus what resources will be "exempt." Here is a link to the SSA page discussing SSI resources so that you can do this: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/ssi/text-resources-ussi.htm
A Special Needs Trust (SNT) could potentially be used by if your mother is only going to receive $6,000 then a SNT is probably not economically justified. She should be talking with her attorney and if there is uncertainty then a local elder law attorney or disability attorney experienced with public assistance eligibility certainly should be able to assist her. SSI WILL want to see how the money was spent (and Medicaid may also). The money MUST be reported to SSI and Medicaid and will get reported to them at some point regardless but it will be best for mother to be out front on making sure they know about this money when it happens. Ordering things online MAY be a good idea but I do want to caution that the payment needs to come directly from mother so IF someone else uses their credit card and she reimburses them by cash/check/etc. this opens the door to potential problems and the risk that she is accused of transferring funds as a gift, which SSI and Medicaid penalize. IF father is not a Rep Payee for your mother, then it is doubtful SSA will want to deal with him without her being present.
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Is SSI advising you that she needs to spend the money to avoid a reduction in her SSI payments?
If they have already advised you about the order, then perhaps you should be speaking to them. Whether or not the purchases can be made online, and can be made for things such as household furnishings, etc is likely to be covered by their agency regulations.
However, I should also point out that the payment of the money for her car accident is most likely for her medical bills, pain and suffering, so I think she might want to put the money there.
She needs to sit down with the attorney who obtained the settlement to figure that out. And it is not your money to spend, it is hers, limited English or not, so she has to be the one spending it.
This does not constitute legal advice or the engagement of my services as an attorney.
This is a discussion your mother should be having with her accident attorney, and then coordinate the outcome of that discussion with Social Security.
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