I hope you are having a wonderful summer and have been able to enjoy some of the many great events at the Three Rivers Festival. My office was honored again this year to participate in the Three Rivers Festival Parade, always one of the highlights of the Festival.
I want to update you in this column about one of the least known, yet one of the most important programs, my office offers, our Representative Payee Program. Payee Program Director LeRoy Page and his staff recently have made some changes to refine and improve this already successful program.
Some persons, particularly those receiving Social Security disability benefits, have challenges that prevent them from managing their own money without help. Persons in this category can voluntarily sign up for Wayne Township’s Representative Payee Program. Currently, we have approximately 100 persons in the program, many of them referred to us by the Social Security Office.
When a person becomes a participant in Wayne Township’s Representative Payee Program, their income, usually in the form of Social Security disability checks, is directly deposited into a Wayne Township bank account. Then our staff, using the participant’s own money, pays his or her bills for them.
Our first priority is to pay the Representative Payee client’s bills for basic necessities. Those include housing, utilities, food, medical expenses and personal care items. Once the basic necessities are paid, we try to put some of the client’s money into savings for emergencies.
Payee Director Page has been instrumental in emphasizing that all Payee clients, who have the money, should have some savings. The importance of keeping some money in savings has been a difficult concept for some clients, whose monthly checks often are small and barely cover basic necessities.
Since Mr. Page has been Director, he and his staff have worked toward getting to know each Payee client and to advocate for them both in the financial arena and in their quality of life. Besides Mr. Page, the Payee staff includes Ralph Charlton, who handles the accounting and bill paying, and Gwen Carpenter, who works directly with the clients.
Director Page can cite several examples of how our staff has advocated for Payee clients, resolving problems they were unable work out themselves. One client had a fire at her home and received a $9,000 insurance check to make home repairs. Social Security interpreted the check as income to the client until we explained that the money was to be used to repair damage from the fire.
Another Payee participant ran up a large bill for medication at a local pharmacy because he did not understand he needed to present his insurance card to the pharmacy. Our office was able to advocate for him so the client did not have to pay the large medication bill.
Our Payee staff looks for free or low-cost programs to recommend to the Payee participants to enhance their quality of life. Among the programs we have recommended to our Payee clients are free medical services to help improve their health and free GED programs for clients able to obtain their GEDs.
I am very proud of our Representative Payee Program and especially in the improvements Director Page and his staff are continuing to make. Our Payee Program provides a much needed service and benefits not only the participants, but our community by making sure some our most vulnerable citizens have a better quality of life.
Richard A. Stevenson, Sr.
Wayne Township Trustee
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