My mother turned seventy a couple of weeks ago. This means a couple of things:
- First, she's reached the age at which she can receive maximum retirement benefits from Social Security.
- Second, it's time for her to start taking Required Minimum Distributions from her retirement accounts.
If you've been reading Get Rich Slowly for a while, you know that these two routine tasks are less than routine for my family. My mother has fought a long-time battle with mental illness. After a crisis in 2011, my brothers and I realized that she could not live alone. We found a highly-regarded local assisted living facility that specializes in patients with memory issues. (Mom has some sort of cognitive disability that includes memory loss, but which the doctors have been unable to diagnose.)
For the past seven years, Mom has lived at Happy Acres in a comfortable apartment with her cat (Bonnie) and her television. When I see her, I often ask if there's anything more she needs or wants. She assures me that this is all she needs to be happy.
At this point, Mom struggles with routine personal hygiene, so there's no way she can take care of tasks like signing up for Social Security or taking withdrawals from her retirement accounts. As her sons, that's now our job. (And we're happy to do it.)
You might think that this process would be easy — but you'd be wrong. I suspect that in most cases, getting retirement benefits started is easy, but it's much less so in our situation. [Read more…]