Medicare, Social Security, and Power of Attorney
Jul 20, 2016
I have power of attorney for my husband’s financial and health decisions. However, when I try to talk with Medicare or Social Security about him, I get nowhere. Because of his medical issues, I need to be able to communicate on his behalf.
Establishing powers of attorney must be done while a person is of sound mind and able to make financial and medical decisions. Then, a power of attorney document allows an appointed person to make financial, legal, and property decisions on an individual’s behalf.
Joe had a stroke and his wife, Janet, has power of attorney. When selling a car titled in Joe’s name, she provided a copy of this document.
A durable power of attorney for healthcare allows an agent to make important and necessary healthcare decisions.
Janet gave the long-term care facility a copy of Joe’s durable power of attorney for healthcare. She could then make decisions about his care plan.
Unfortunately, neither of these documents will work when it comes to Medicare or Social Security. Even more important, each program requires its own documentation.
By law, Medicare requires a beneficiary’s written permission to use or provide personal medical information for any purpose not defined the privacy notice contained in the “Medicare & You” handbook. If the person is no longer able to give consent, his or her personal representative can complete an “Authorization to Disclose Personal Health Information.
A power of attorney form does not give the legal authority to negotiate and manage a beneficiary’s Social Security payments. In order to do this, a person must apply for and be appointed as a “representative payee.” This individual manages benefits for someone who cannot handle money or finances. Social Security will ask the representative payee to document how the benefits were used.
The process of becoming a representative payee is more involved. The individual must apply in person at a Social Security office and submit a letter from the beneficiary’s physician documenting the need for a representative payer.
Check these links for important information:
Medicare authorization— www.cms.gov/Medicare/CMS-Forms/CMS-Forms/Downloads/CMS10106.pdf.
Representative payee — www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10076.pdf.