It Takes A Month Or 3 To Change Direct DepositOn one level being slow and hard to reach in some way could protect members from abuse. But it made it very difficult when Mike, who became conservator for his mother Carol, was trying to get her pension to go into a conservatorship account, as opposed to a compromised account. Sonya, the daughter who had financially abused the mother Carol, had closed the account Carol had and where her pension was being deposited, and opened a new account. As far as I can tell Sonya did not inform CalSTRS and there was some confusion of where the pension was going. When Mike became conservator there was some problem getting CalSTRS to recognize him as conservator.
Once they finally recognized Mike as the conservator of Carol who was a member of CalSTRS, they told him they needed a whole pay period before they could have the direct deposit going into the new account. Mike turned into the paperwork and waited for a month for the pension payment to appear so he could pay for his mother's care. Unfortunately, CalSTRS did not feel a rush to tell him that there was something missing in his paperwork. So when the date when her pension was to appear passed, he had to inquire with the bank then CalSTRS and discovered that there was missing information and had to wait another month for the pension payment.
CalSTRS Assumes Members Will Always Be Independent
Mike's interactions with CalSTRS when he needed to inquire about something was like pulling teeth. My heart goes out to any caregiver of a CalSTRS member. It seemed CalSTRS only frame of reference might have been the POA. When I inquired on my husband's behalf, because the whole trying to care for his mother thing was overwhelming, I didn't get anything other than an automated response.... if that.
The website is only for members. Not caregivers acting on their behalf. We asked. They will not allow for the conservator to take over.
When you look at the CalSTRS website the only thing they have about abuse, which Carol was a victim of, it is only about members abusing CalSTRS, as if members can only be perpetrators not victims.
So it appears that CalSTRS has the mindset that members will be fully mentally functional and independent. So it becomes part of the nightmare when a child of a member or a caregiver who comes in blind has to try to figure out where to start.
CalSTRS Not HelpfulWe found CalSTRS not particularly helpful. Maybe in all the encounters with CalSTRS maybe one person tried to be helpful and understand my husband's situation in trying to care for his mom 3000 miles away. I'm sure if he were in California it would have been a little less stressful.
Lastly, let me end with a positive. Those CalSTRS payments were very generous. Carol's pension was a little less than my take home pay as a full time Federal worker, and more than what my husband makes per month. That amount of money was very helpful in making it possible to stretch out what was left to pay for better end of life care for Carol.