Home > Teaching a good lesson? Or being greedy?

Teaching a good lesson? Or being greedy?

November 6th, 2011 at 08:12 pm

My 55 year old uncle lives with my parents. He is slightly retarded, and went to school but can't read and can't count. He can tell time but doesn't really know what time means. If he were a kid today, he would be mainstreamed and would probably have found a job, but back in the 50's they didn't do that (or my grandparents chose not to do that) so he has never had a job and has lived with my grandma or my parents his whole life. I know other people with more severe limitations that live on their own and have jobs.

My grandma gets his Social Security money and gives him dribs and drabs of it, and pays my parents some of it for food and housing. Probably illegal, as she spends most of his money on things for her, but she can pull up bogus receipts saying the money was spent on him, so investigations don't catch her.

When my parents go to my brothers or sisters games, he has to pay for his way in and anything at the concession stand. They don't charge him for any gas or anything else.

My brother is now playing basketball at a junior college 2 1/2 hours away, and we went to the game last night. I drove and took my mom and uncle (dad was busy and so was my husband). I filled up when I left town, picked them up, drove out and back bucking a 35 mile wind the whole way, and then filled up in town again. Gas cost $60 for that tank. I told them we would split it 3 ways, so each of us would pay $20.

My uncle didn't have that much money to pay me. He is going to have to ask my grandma for more money, and I have a feeling grandma is going to throw a fit. Because she is greedy and manipulative.

I don't really care if she throws a fit or not. But what do you think? My uncle has been sheltered his whole life and doesn't have any responsibility other than making sure that the animals have water every day and washing dishes. Am I teaching a good lesson? Or being greed myself?

18 Responses to “Teaching a good lesson? Or being greedy?”

  1. Jane Says:

    Honestly, unless you really need the $20, it doesn't seem worth it to me. Who are you teaching the lesson to? It sounds like you are (understandably) tempted to take a stand again how your grandmother handles your uncle's money. However, forcing the issue over this gas money sounds like it will just distress your uncle, and from the way you described things it may be hard for him to really grasp your motives. Also, if your uncle does end up in the middle of this argument he might worry about not having enough "gas money" with him to accompany family on other outings, which I am sure is not an outcome you want.

  2. cptacek Says:

    So I should split the gas with my mom, and let him ride along for free?

  3. cptacek Says:

    As a follow up, I didn't think about Grandma throwing a fit until I got home last night. When I was filling up, I just thought "gas is $60, there are three adults in the car, so $20 a piece." I thought about the rest of it later.

    He is smarter than most people give him credit for. I was just treating him like I would treat any other adult who rode with me. Why is that wrong?

  4. snafu Says:

    I guess you have learned a lesson. It would have been better to establish the split for the cost of gas at the first when plans to go to an event were being made. If uncle lives with your parents, perhaps your mom could ask grandmother for $ 20. explaining it was needed to reduce your cost.

    It's confusing that uncle's SS goes to grandmother but he lives with your parents. I would guess that Social Security would barely cover room and board costs if your parents worked out the costs of operating their household.

  5. cptacek Says:

    Yes, Snafu, I will definitely say up front next time.

    As for the SS money going to Grandma instead of my parents, they started that way because at the time, Grandpa was in a rest home, and Dad didn't want to give Grandma an excuse to "pull the plug" because she didn't have my uncle's money coming in. Since he didn't establish up front that the money needed to be taken care of by my parents, he hasn't insisted on changing it since. It has now been over 10 years. After Grandpa died, Grandma started giving about $300 a month to my parents. It has gone up since, then, but only to a little over half?

    My uncle should not live with my Grandma. It is best for him to live with my parents, or with one of his other brothers or sister. But if my parents insist on getting the money, Grandma will take him back and make him live with her. For the good of my uncle, they don't make waves.

    I said in my original post, it is probably illegal what Grandma is doing. When she knows an investigation is coming, she comes and gets my uncle and he stays with her for a few weeks, she fools the investigator, and then he comes back to mom and dad's.

  6. wowitsawonderfullife Says:

    In this case the extra body in the car does not contribute that much gas. I would let him ride for free but any other cost like food or lodging should be covered by him.

  7. cptacek Says:

    I can't afford to spend $60 a week to go see these games. I might could afford $20 every few weeks to go see a game. If I don't go, they probably won't go either, because mom and dad can't afford $60 a week to go see games either, and uncle can't drive. Does this change anything?

  8. baselle Says:

    In situations like this, you'd want to ask yourself what your ultimate goal is.

    Do you want to support your brother and how often? Since he's in junior college and aways away, I don't think he'd take it too personally if you weren't there for every game. Maybe every other home game, or keep in touch with brother and let him tell you if the game will be particularly good. Sounds to me that $60 was unusual because of that headwind. Could be that most trips won't be as gas intensive.

    I'm thinking that uncle will be part of your parents trip. I'd keep him out of the equation as much as I can. Did your uncle pay a little something? If he did, I would drop it for this instance. If uncle paid nothing because he had nothing, and I really wanted to stir the pot, I'd pursue it. Since grandma is the scammer, be advised that its a
    Text is felony and Link is
    felony with fines double of what she received in SS. Quite conceivable that compared to that, $20 is a small price to pay.

    Again, depends on what your ultimate aim is. If you really hate grandma, or grandma is recalcitrant, I'd try to make sure that the SSN inspector comes when you, your parents, and your uncle are at your brother's basketball game.

  9. cptacek Says:

    My goal is to support my brother, and help my parents be able to see his games like they came to mine. (Dad couldn't go to this one because of farm stuff coming up) Like I said, my mom and my uncle would not have gone if I hadn't drove. My thinking at the time was "3 adults, split by 3, no big deal". After the fact, I got to thinking about all of this.

    I love my grandma. But that doesn't mean that she is right. I am capable of seeing that someone I love is doing the wrong thing and still love them.

    I don't think that turning her in will help. She has had inspections in the past and nothing has changed and she didn't get caught.

    My uncle had $10 left, and I didn't take it. I know he will want to use that for something other than paying for gas, like going to my sister's high school games. It may seem like we are sports crazy, but really, that is the only entertainment that my parents pay for to go see. And my uncle really, really, really likes to watch college basketball games, especially if one of his nieces/nephews are playing.

    My mom will probably say something to grandma, and I'll get the money later.

  10. laura Says:

    After reading all of this, I'm not sure if I have much to really contribute.

    Your uncle is apparently a dependent on someone's taxes, most likely your parents because he lives with them. It is a shame that your grandmother is probably having sticky fingers with the money.

    If your uncle is indeed a dependent on someone's taxes (even if it isn't your parents), I would most likely not hit him up money. I would think that your parents' contribution (or mom's, in this care) would cover his portion. Most likely your parents make A LOT more money than you uncle, so "equal pay" might not be applicable here. Maybe proportionately?

    Seems to me that your uncle is the one who is suffering because of this. Unless I knew definitely that he had "x" amount of dollars, I would let it go. If you and your mom split the gas, it is only an additional $10 more. Is it worth it to pay that to see your brother play?

  11. cptacek Says:

    He is a dependent on Grandma's taxes, I think. I am not sure of that, though.

    My parents are farmers and are barely making it. This past summer, if they had not had a good wheat crop, they would have had to sell everything. They are on a year to year loan with the bank.

    My uncle has no expenses other than admission to games and snack foods while there.

    Grandma married a rich farmer/equipment dealer and is rolling in it. She would not have given this $20 to my uncle in any case. This is not a case of "will uncle miss the money" as he wouldn't have gotten it anyway.

  12. laura Says:

    I don't think there's an easy answer. I wouldn't make a big deal over the money. It sounds as if it is cost-prohibitive to see your brother play with everyone's finances uncertain.

    It is clear that money is being used to control/manipulate the situation. Sounds like your grandmother should feel very guilty about what she is doing. The whole situation of your parents having your uncle so the "plug wouldn't be pulled" on your grandfather is well ... frankly, disturbing. Your uncle is better off where he is. I hope your parents do claim him on their taxes as a dependent. They are supporting him.

    Totally off base here, but your uncle should have a guardian ad litem other than your grandmother.

  13. Frügal Says:

    I had worked with developmentally disabled adults for five years, before recently becoming a SAHF.

    There are times when guardians absolutely deserve some of the money that their dependents receive, and at other times, absolutely not.

    I do not know the situation. If you feel that she is abusing the situation, I would take legal action.

  14. Petunia 100 Says:

    In order for the uncle to be claimed as a dependent, his income must be lower than a personal exemption. So for 2010, his income must be lower than $3,650. It sounds as though his SS benefits are more than that.

    I think the best solution would be for your parents to be your uncle's payee as they are covering his expenses. Your grandmother should not be keeping any part of his benefits as she is not providing anything.

    Family problems can be very trying, I know.

  15. cptacek Says:

    I agree, I think my parents should be the payee. But if they try, Grandma will take him back. That is not good.

  16. Jerry Says:

    This seems like an awkward situation, and you don't want it to lead to more trouble than it is worth. I think that snafu was right, and that it should be arranged in advance for future trips. It does not sound like Grandma would be the ultimate source of reason and understanding about this at all, unfortunately. With regard to the social security, you would need to have some iron-clad insurance that the malfeasance can be proven before starting anything. Sorry it's such a mess for you to deal with!

  17. Jerry Says:

    This seems like an awkward situation, and you don't want it to lead to more trouble than it is worth. I think that snafu was right, and that it should be arranged in advance for future trips. It does not sound like Grandma would be the ultimate source of reason and u

  18. scrappytappy Says:

    It sounds like the real issue here isn't the $20 bucks. It's the fact that your parents are taking your uncle in and you feel they are not getting a fair deal out if it (a.k.a. sticky fingered grandma). I get the sense that you have an issue with how grandma is treating your parents and getting away with it. Obviously, she isn't giving your uncle enough to do the things he wants to do.

    I understand that it's unfair that your uncle doesn't have enough money to cover expenses and others have to chip in. But most people on social security don't have enough cash. Personally, I wouldn't charge my grandmother (who is on SS) gas money to go to my goddaughters cheerleading competitions no matter if it's 5 bucks or 20 bucks because she is part of my family and I want her to stay active and engaged in our family. Then again, she doesn't drive or have any other options in terms of transportations and I always invite her to come. Just my opinion.

    My advice is to reflect upon how your parents feel about the whole thing? Do they think grandma gives him enough? Do they feel ripped off by her? It sounds like they have has some issues with money as you mentioned in the comments. Personally, I think if they have an issue with the situation, they need to bring it up with grandma so that your uncle does have enough money to do what he wants.

    I would stay out of that particular conversation (since it isn't really your business). It's hard to sit by and watch the people you love being taken advantage of but they are adults and should speak up if they have a problem with the situation.

    Good luck!

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