Q. My neighbor is 70 and I think she has mild dementia. She has no family. I just learned she never filed for Social Security. What should she do?
— Trying to help

A. It’s nice that you’re trying to look out for your neighbor’s best interests.

It’s possible your neighbor chose not to file yet on purpose.

Waiting to apply for Social Security benefits at age 70 can be a good thing because a person who is eligible to receive Social Security benefits at age 70 will get 132 percent of the monthly benefit the person otherwise would have been entitled to receive at the earlier full retirement age, said Shirley Whitenack, an estate planning attorney with Schenck, Price, Smith & King in Florham Park.

“When a person reaches age 70, the monthly benefit stops increasing even if the person continues to postpone applying for benefits,” Whitenack said. “She may receive retroactive benefits that she was entitled to receive when she reached 70 years of age.”

Your neighbor can apply online at the Social Security Administration’s website, by calling Social Security at 800-772-1213 or by making an appointment at her local Social Security office.

Whitenack said the Social Security Administration has a Representative Payment Program that provides financial management for the Social Security payments of individuals who arenot capable of managing the payments on their own.

“If the reader is concerned that the neighbor cannot manage the payments, the reader can call Social Security to discuss those concerns,” she said. “Social Security will appoint family or friends to serve as representative payees.”

If family or friends are not available, Whitenack said, the Social Security office will appoint qualified organizations to serve as representative payees.

“A family member or a friend, however, cannot be paid for serving as a representative payee,” she said. “Only qualified organizations are entitled to be paid for serving as representative payees.”

Good luck with your neighbor!

Email your questions to ask@njmoneyhelp.com.

Karin Price Mueller writes the Bamboozled column for The Star-Ledger and she’s the founder of NJMoneyHelp.com. Click here to sign up for the NJMoneyHelp.com weekly e-newsletter. Like NJMoneyHelp.com on Facebook and follow it on Twitter


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