Basically, everything is still up in the air; however, I do believe that we will have to file a Waiver for Over Payment. I do not think that anything I provided will change the outcome. In order for the Waiver to be approved, I will have to prove that (1) we do not have the money to pay it back (not hard) AND that (2) the over payment was not our fault (hard but not impossible).
With Supplemental Security Income, a family may not have more than $5000 in resources. This includes any money in the bank (checking and savings), stocks and bonds, vehicles and a number of other items. One car is excluded off the bat, but any other car either has to be financed with its equity counting toward the $5000 resource limit.
We do have a second car that is paid for and the value is $4500. We can have $500 in checking and savings. This does not give a lot of wiggle room.
The cause of our problem is because of two unconventional issues:
1. Our mortgage company does not escrow our property taxes or homeowner's insurance. We have to put a specific amount aside each month into a savings account. The savings account is strictly for these two bills. I have told the SSA during each annual review about this issue, and we have been told that it was not a problem. Now we are finding out that it is an issue and counts as a resource.
*If our mortgage company collected our property taxes and homeowner's insurance, then we would not have a problem.
2. When we financed our minivan in 2008, we used our home equity loan because it was a lower interest rate, and the interest was tax deductible. Again, during each annual review, I made it clear that the car was financed through our home equity line. I even have paperwork I gave to SSA in 2012 to show the balance.
*If we had financed our car with a regular auto loan, then we would not have a problem.
Of course, until you go through something, you do not completely understand the ins and outs of a process and the rules and regulations. We could and would have made different decisions if we had known that these two issues would come back to bite us. To us, a loan was a loan and it made better financial sense to use our home equity loan to finance the car. For the property tax and homeowner's insurance, we could have paid the amount monthly to the city and insurance company, rather than hold it in the savings account for each annual bill.
One thing I did, which I wish I had done at all our past meetings is take notes and then type them up in a summary. A copy will be given to Social Security Administration (SSA) to stay in Ben's files and I will keep a copy for myself. I included the following:
- date and time of meeting,
- people present,
- items discussed,
- follow-up meeting date,
- what the staff member will provide me; and
- what I will provide SSA.
I have every confidence in the staff member with whom I met. She was competent, compassionate and will do what she can within the confines of the rules and regulations for our case.
My last post about my issues with SSI generated many great responses from readers. I appreciated every comment, idea and suggestion. I even enjoyed reading the differing viewpoints about whether to bring Ben to the meeting or not. I did not bring Ben, and I am grateful for not doing so. I was there for over two hours, and Ben would have been miserable waiting while information was typed into the computer.
My husband and I researched each suggestion from the comment section, and I printed out copies to bring to the meeting. I asked questions about points I thought might apply to our case. None made a difference, but as long as I leave no stone unturned, I will have peace with this process.
Thank you for the support through emails, comments and Facebook shout outs. Although I went to the meeting alone, I brought with me the feeling of support from many friends, family and readers.
As this saga unfolds, I will share what I learn so that others that come after me will be able to make more informed decisions. I am hoping that my hindsight will provide someone else with 20/20.