Larry is 65 and lives in senior housing in Boston. His health is reasonably good, but his memory has begun to fail. In December 2003 he was facing eviction because the housing authority suspected that his daughter was living with him in violation of affordable-housing policy.
Larry’s phone bill showed more than $1,000 in calls to places he had no reason to call, and when he failed to pay, he lost his phone service. His other expenses were also in arrears, his debts were mounting, and his monthly income disappeared at the beginning of each month because of large withdrawals he did not recall making. His daughter said she was helping her father manage his money, but Larry was always short of cash and increasingly anxious. For a while, Larry thought he had withdrawn money and then misplaced it.When it was pointed out to him that his daughter was stealing from him, he was devastated.
The resident-services coordinator in the housing unit where Larry lived called Protective Services, the state program charged with investigating abuse of the elderly. Protective Services then referred Larry to the Boston Money Management Program.
At that point, things began to change for the better for Larry. Believing that Larry was not capable of making appropriate decisions about his Social Security benefit check, the Boston Money Management Program contacted the Social Security Administration. Boston Money Management’s Deborah Grose informed Social Security that she had a volunteer, Jane Brayton, who was willing to serve as Larry’s representative payee and manage his benefit check. Brayton then opened a checking account for him, to which she has sole access. Larry’s Social Security check is now deposited directly into that account, and Brayton pays all his bills and makes sure he has enough money for incidentals.
Although Larry’s daughter doesn’t come around as much anymore, another daughter, after hearing of the situation, has become much more attentive, visiting Larry on a regular basis. And one by one, Brayton is getting Larry’s overdue debts either paid or forgiven. Larry has a phone again and has enrolled in a day time adult-health program that he enjoys immensely. Now that his money is being used wisely, Larry has funds he never had before to buy some creature comforts. Brayton says that the look on his face when he sits in his new La-Z-Boy recliner is indescribable.
Larry is happy with Brayton, too.
“She’s good. She takes a lot of pressure off of me,” he says. “She makes me understand things and takes the worry and pain out of my head.”