I had many emails and questions that some people chose to not enter on the POL blog post. I am going to cover some of them here.
One question I received was if the Railroad Retirement and Veterans’s Administration Agency also had Proof of Life qualifications.
Here was the answer I received for that;
“Each agency has they own proof of life system, but none of the agencies ever have the amount of people suspended or problems for non receipt of a survey or proof of life as the SSA. Besides the fact that the SSA does not only suspend because of the proof of life, they also suspend because of address issues (living overseas and using a US address).”
I also received more clarifying information as to why the POL would be different for those of us that retire here as opposed to those that live in the US.
One of the big differences between here in Panama and the US is that in the US deaths almost always are reported through the government by law, and so the process is generally self-policing as far as proof-of-life. Here, that is not the case, and I am sure that there any number of US Citizens/Panamanian Residents here that die and are not reported to the US Embassy, no official death certificates are issued and people keep collecting benefits until they get caught and have to pay it back. The US Embassy in Panama City always notifies the Vital Records sections of the states where people were born of the death certificate and send a scan to them.
Again, let me make this perfectly clear. I am not trying to tell anyone what to do. I am only providing information to anyone that is a US citizen and a permanent resident in Panama. There are guidelines issued by the US Government requiring notification when a US citizen lives outside the US for more than 3 months a year. I published them in the Proof of Life post.
I know many want to “fly under the radar”. Every year there is more communications between the Panamanian government and the US Government. It is not unreasonable to believe that information is shared about new pensionados from the US to Panama.
If you happen to get a retirement income from a US agency, it makes sense to comply with the regulations. Now if the SSA check is not a big deal to you and you can wait a couple months without having it, why worry? I can’t do that, so I will believe what I read and have been told.
I personally like Susan’s approach about just sending your information into the SSA every year and not waiting or depending on getting a letter. You have now taken control of the situation and removed control from a faulty mail system and other unknown problems that may arise.