Every time the Proof of Life (POL) topic comes up, it is always a hoot. Conspiracy Theorists come out of the woodwork and wonder why the government is wanting a Panama Address.
People say POL only applies if you are having money deposited in Panama and doesn’t apply if money is deposited stateside. Not true, but people tend to believe what they would rather believe.
People say I use a mail forwarding address or I have my mail delivered to a friend or family in the U.S. and they forward any important mail to me. I have never received a POL letter. Well guess what, these letters are not mailed to the U.S., and the government doesn’t recognize a mail forwarding address as a valid address.
I get the question, I have no address. There is no way for me to get mail in Panama. Now this has some validity. Some areas have more problems getting mail than others. You can alway use “entrega general” (general delivery), to your closest Panama Post Office, for you mailing address.
Some areas in Panama have a higher likelihood of losing mail or having it delivered very late. That is the reason that the Embassy is making the effort to tell people they may have a problem if they are on the list and haven’t been notified.
Your mailing address and your physical address are two separate things.
I have had people tell me they called SSA and were told they didn’t have to fill out POL. You may be surprised to learn that many in the agency don’t understand what requirements are imposed depending on where you reside. The international office usually does, but I would rather follow the guidelines set for the country I am living in.
It is always the same and it happens every time POL comes as news to someone that hasn’t heard of it before.
The previous notice, from the FBU, stated that there were currently over 300 people that will start missing their checks this month.
Why do I give a shit? I’ll tell you. The FBU is a small staff in the Panama Embassy. 300+ problems will cause them a lot of work that is due to irresponsibility. Each one of the 300+ affected individuals will be upset because they have to make a trip to Panama City to visit the Embassy in person to get payments restored.
Why is face to face meeting required? Well it is because they want to make sure the person saying xyz is alive is really xyz.
I am a volunteer staff of 1 (2 counting Lilliam) and if the offender is in Chiriquí or around David, I will probably get a call. I don’t do well helping people that knew better, but didn’t like the system.
I have lived in Panama long enough to understand why the POL system is in place. Many gringos come to Panama and get involved with a family and they take care of the individuals and may even have access to their ATM card. It is to their advantage to avoid notifying the Embassy if the person dies. It happens.
Many U.S. Citizens fly under the radar and keep moving to various countries. They may die and no one knows where they are or who they are. People have died in Panama and the Embassy has never been notified.
If you are using a friend or family member in the US, then you may be able to beat the system. However, if it becomes known that you are a resident of Panama and receiving a check in the U.S. It is grounds for the SSA to stop payments until they receive POL.
How can they find out? Ask Snowden.
You can either choose to comply with what the U.S. Embassy has been instructed to tell the U.S. Citizens living in Panama or you can ignore it. If you get in trouble, it will be the FBU in Panama City that bails you out.
If it doesn’t matter if you miss a few months of SS or other Federal Benefit payments, then don’t worry about it. The Embassy will get it turned back on as soon as they can. Unlike me, they will remain politically correct on any communication delivered to the individual in trouble.
I personally am happy to see that this system is there and that the agency is trying to prevent payments from going to a dead person and still being cashed or collected. I am not sure that Social Security will be there for my entire lifetime.