Never Too Late - November/December 2023

Rights & Benefits Information

Minimizing the Risk of Financial Abuse for People Living with Dementia By Jack Burns , Social Security Public Affairs Specialist, Arizona

Celebrating 88 Years of Social Security By Jack Burns , Social Security Public Affairs Specialist, Arizona For 88 years, Social Security has provided income protection to millions of retirees, people with disabilities, dependents, and families that lose a wage earner. This year, we will administer more than $1.3 trillion in benefits and payments to more than 70 million beneficiaries. In addition, we issue millions of Social Security numbers each year, maintain wage records, and more. We are proud to serve the American people every day. To better serve you, we have prioritized our online customer experience. Our website makes it easier for you to find what you need. More than 180 million people visit our website every year. Whether providing service in person or online, our goal is help you understand what you may qualify for and transition you to an application process. We have also worked to make sure our programs, particularly Supplemental Security Income (SSI), remains accessible to the people who need it most. Last year, we launched an online tool that allows you or your representative to request an appointment to file for SSI and protect your filing date. A Social Security employee will then schedule a full interview. Find more information about SSI at . We remain committed to helping maintain the well-being and protection of the people we serve. We strive to ensure that every person who is eligible for or receives benefits gets them timely and accurately. That is how we help you secure today and tomorrow.

Financial crime against older Americans is a growing problem. People living with dementia are at an especially high risk of becoming victims. That’s why we’re committed to combatting fraud. As their memory and other thinking skills decline, people with dementia may struggle to make financial decisions. They may not remember or report the abuse – or understand that someone is taking advantage of them. This abuse can occur anywhere – including at home or in care settings. Victims of fraud who are 80 years and older lose an average of $39,200 every year. Studies show that financial exploitation is the most common form of elder abuse. However, only a small fraction of these incidents are reported. You can help protect others by learning to recognize common signs of financial exploitation and abuse, including: • Unopened bills. • Unusual or large purchases. • Utilities being shut off due to unpaid bills. • Money given to telemarketers or soliciting companies. • Unexplained withdrawals from the person’s bank account. There are also many simple things that caregivers can do to reduce the risk of financial abuse for people with dementia and similar conditions, like Alzheimer’s. Do your best to make sure

they’re involved in deciding which safety measures to put into place. Some options include: • Agreeing to spending limits on credit cards. • Signing up for the “Do Not Call” list at . • Setting up auto-pay for bills instead of paying them by check. • Signing up to receive automatic notifications for withdrawals from bank accounts or large charges to credit cards. • Requesting electronic bank and credit card statements and watching for unusual purchases or changes in how the person typically spends money. • Asking credit card companies to stop sending balance transfer checks and opting out of future solicitations. • Creating a separate account where you can keep a small, agreed-upon amount of money that the person can use for recreational activities, meals with friends, etc. To learn more about combating elder abuse, visit our blog at https://blog.ssa. gov/world-elder-abuse-awareness-day- combating-injustice/ .

Please share this information with your friends and loved ones who may need it.

November/December 2023, Never Too Late | Page 13

Pima Council on Aging

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