Work Scenario #5 – Entitlement Checks

August 1, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Posted in Position Description, Work Scenerios | Leave a comment
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Disclaimer: So that some work scenarios make more sense, I’d like to describe the organization I worked with. A mobile mental health team served severe and persistent mentally ill people in a county in Maryland. Some descriptions may seem vague or cryptic; it is to preserve the identity of clients, organization, and co-workers. Some documents are redacted via pixilation. My specific duties will always remain intact.

Nothing needs more attention to detail and protocol than handling money.  This and the next work scenario will be addressing those responsibilities.  Our organization was often the representative-payee for clients receiving Social Security checks for disability.  The government has several laws and rules about this distribution.  I attended a one-day seminar given by the regional Social Security Office before I starting the duties as described below.

I was given the responsibility of the distribution for the clients in our office.  Approximately 30 of our clients needed us to take care of their money.  Although how monies were allocated were decided by their primary contact, I had to know the client’s needs just as well so I could be an asset to a co-worker that may be struggling with this decision.  From start to successful completion was the following three-step process.

Step One:

For me, creating a spreadsheet and importing or entering data was always a good start and it wasn’t any different with this task.  My spreadsheet tracked the funds for a year, with a worksheet for each month.  The most relevant information about a client were included, names, amounts of checks, what each cut would be, and a reconciliation of funds for the end of the month.  My data came from the office manager, that received the physical checks, and my co-workers requests.  My office manager, who trained me five years ago, already had a plan that worked well on getting me the information I needed.  It was up to me to make it all work in our office.

By exchanging details via forms I created, letters from the Social Security Administration, and the previous month’s data we could all do our jobs more satisfactorily.  By knowing this information, I could send out a team-wide email listing the money expected for the month for each client, any loans from us that had to be paid back, and any notes that would help on the decisions to spend money.  When my co-workers read the email, they knew to fill out the request forms for me.  Those requests were sent to me to, reconciled against the money available, returned for corrections as needed, finally, requests were sent to the office manager.  The deadline to get all this done was around the second Monday of the month.  The process then was out of my hands until the checks were sent to me at the beginning of the following month.  Then the second part of the plan of action began.

Step Two:

Checks got to our office a day or two before the distribution date.  Once I had them, checks were copied, attached to my copies of the requests after making sure that the checks were cut correctly, and alphabetized.  If there were any problems in how a check was written, I voided them, put in a correction request, and returned them to the accounting department.  I removed all checks for payments for rent, our pharmacy, and any other bills I had to mail out for the client.  Rent checks were addressed and mailed that same day.  This entire process was time-consuming; in any given month, there could be as many 120 checks.  It was always one of my better-planned days of the month.

Step Three:

The product of this preparation was an ability to give out the checks to clients in a smooth and seamless way.  ‘Check Day’ was always very busy and we all still had our daily responsibilities to regard.  Clients could come into the office to pick up their checks or they could be delivered.  For the ones that came to the office I had a sign out sheet, answered any questions, and made small talk, that’s the easiest part of the job.

Once I put this plan into place ‘check day’ ran smoothly and any problems that arose could be easily handled.  Information on hand and a good rapport with the Social Security offices in the county helped me do my job.

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