Like many of you, that read this blog, I was not compliant with my address notification to the Social Security about my living in Panama and was one of the people that would be scheduled to have my Social Security payments stopped. Refer back to the Proof Of Life post.
Here is what I have done. First I acquired a post office box at the post office in David. I was fortunate enough to learn of one that was going to be freed up and took it. I asked a friend to send me a letter to test that it was working and to measure the speed. To this point it is over 3 weeks and his letter has not arrived.
I don’t consider this to be unusual as I had a letter sent to my mail forwarding address in Florida and it took almost a month to get to me. Getting mail in Panama can be a struggle.
However, it is better for some of us in Panama than others. I was talking with Larry Shane, who is the Warden in Bocas, and he said they were receiving about 4 deliveries a year. If you want to send anything out, it has to be ready to be picked up when a delivery comes in.
Obviously anyone living in Bocas will never have the opportunity to respond to the SSA notification letter in time, so Larry is working with the Embassy in Panama City to find a solution.
Back to my process. Having the post office box, I was ready to fill out Form SSA-21 to update my address. I downloaded the form and took my first cut at it. Before mailing it to the Embassy, I decided to scan it and send it to the FBU in Panama City to have them validate it.
I must be having my share of the stupids because it took me three times yesterday to get the form filled out so that it had all the information that was needed. Personnel in the FBU helped me and walked me through fixing my errors. Thank you FBU!
Now that I have the form correctly filled out, I will mail it (registered mail) from the David Post Office to the FBU department in the U.S. Embassy in Panama City. I will most likely call them a week after I mail it to verify that they have received it.
The FBU will then handle the communications with the SSA and that should take care of me for the next two years.
I know there have been a lot of other suggestions of what to do. I will remind you that if you wind up having a problem with your SSA payment, it will be the FBU department in Panama City that will have to bail you out. You might as well start building a relationship with them now rather than later.
In another week, I will be compliant. How about you?