This is an excerpt from a letter that went to four members of the Virginia General Assembly from my area. The Auxiliary Grant program (which I've commented on before) is a stepchild of "Virginia Hates the Poor and We're Doing it Only Because the Feds Make Us" funding, which means it gets nothing.
I’m court appointed guardian for an individual in assisted living who receives the cruel joke Virginia calls Auxiliary Grant. This isn’t about the stupidity of the niggardly funding of Auxiliary Grant although, as you can imagine, I am more than willing to discuss that at another time. Instead I have another problem related to a quirk in the rules.
Auxiliary Grant (AG) funds are to help with Assisted Living Facilities (ALF) charges. A significant percentage of ALF residents are there because they’re disabled – mentally (including drug/alcohol abuse/addiction) or physically (age or other impediment). Many of them have a guardian/conservator appointed for them. In short, many if not most of the individuals are unable to handle money.
So imagine my surprise when I learned, recently, that Virginia Department of Social Services, Auxiliary Grant Manual, (Volume II, Part III, Chapter J, page 12) states
AG payments are issued by check directly to the individual unless an authorized payee has been designated. If an authorized payee has been designated, the check shall be issued to the authorized payee. An authorized payee may be the individual's court appointed conservator or guardian or the person with a valid power of attorney with the authority to accept funds on behalf of the individual. It is the individual’s or the individual’s payee’s responsibility to use the money to pay the ALF/AFCH. The check cannot be issued in the name of the facility or home.
While I’ve acted as guardian for many people for many years, this is the first I knew that AG payments could NOT be payable to the ALF. I find no logic for it.
My specific problem is that “Jane” for whom I act as guardian lives in an ALF. Her income totals 741.00/month (2014) between Social Security and SSI benefits; because she receives SSI she also automatically receives Medicaid and AG. The Roanoke City DSS (through the Department of Finance) routinely sends AG payments, BUT THEY ARE PAYABLE DIRECTLY TO JANE who has been declared incompetent. Somehow, at the ALF, because the checks were addressed and mailed to her, she got the checks, cashed them and spent the money – she doesn’t know any better – and her rent is unpaid.
Now the ALF is demanding $2420.00 because (a) they didn’t intercept the checks (which they have done in the past) and (b) the checks invited the abuse by how they were written.
I have asked that the legislators from my area contact Commissioner Shultze at Virginia DSS and ask her to fix the abject stupidity of the manual and let AG funds for an ALF be paid to the ALF directly. At least require AG funds be paid to the Guardian/Conservator where one is appointed, although why we would have to ‘launder’ the funds is beyond me. (however if that’s the way it is, I’ll take a 5% fee as fiduciary for doing so!)