It Is Always a Hoot

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.

3 thoughts on “It Is Always a Hoot

  1. It always amazes me that the people who want nothing to do with the government are the first ones to scream that they aren’t getting their benefits. I remember seeing an old lady holding a protest sign “Keep your government hands off my Medicare!”.

  2. You tell them Don! Love it, love it, love it. We all need someone like you who tells it like it is.
    These people that are mentioned in the previous comment are called
    senior juvenile delinquents. They grew up but never matured.

  3. Amen to everything you wrote. I started my SS application online using a relative’s stateside address in Arkansas. I did that because the IRS didn’t like the configuration of my mail forwarding address and was omitting the “PTY” entry. This happened on several occasions. I concluded that with my application for SS that the SSA would use my address on file with the IRS (or match to it). I became worried the SSA would start using an incomplete address that would create unnecessary administrative problems for me from the git go as I attempted to get into the system (smile).

    Well…I received a voice mail (via magicjack) from the SSA informing me that my application for SS benefits had been approved and that my minor children also qualified for benefits. The letter from the SSA also arrived at the stateside address I used and provided the same information included in the voice mail. The customer service person at SSA asked me to call her. I did via Magicjack. I was told verbally that I had been approved for SS benefits…and how much. She also pointed out that our minor children qualified for benefits and then asked me how my wife and I wanted the benefit payments for our children set up…so on and so forth. At the end, she asked if we could bring our boys in to the local SSA office to validate their existence…similar to the POL requirement. Well…I started stuttering and asked if we could accomplish this visit at an Embassy somewhere. After a few more questions from her and a little more stuttering on my part, the very nice lady at SSA concluded I was not living in the USA and began to give me a very stern lecture about lying to the federal government…and the consequences and possible penalties and fines…and so on and so forth. At the end of the lecture, she said my case file would be transferred to SSA’s Office of International Operations (OIO)…from the west coast to the east coast. Subsequent to this transfer, I corrected the addressing problem with the OIO (provided a physical location address and a general deliver address) and (generally speaking) my SS benefits started on time.

    The application for benefits to minor children had to be processed at the FBU in Panama City. The gentleman who assisted us was very kind. With a couple of minor exceptions, we laid out every single document requested. The only glitch in this whole application process was that it took 8 months for the application for these additional benefits to be approved. The paperwork (either paper or digital…not sure) had to be routed through the Embassy in Costa Rica and ultimately to the OIO. The FBU person in Costa Rica emailed me and also called me. Also very kind. He apologized that the process was taking so long and told me that he was on my side. Bottom line is that once the application was received/approved by the OIO, the benefits started almost immediately and included back payments to when our children first qualified for benefits.

    Proof of Life (POL): About 5 months after I applied for the additional benefits referenced above, I received a POL at my general delivery address. TO MAKE SURE THE OIO RECEIVED THE COMPLETED FORM, I (1) scanned and then faxed a copy to the OIO…and then (2) sent a copy using Panama’s registered mail. My benefits continued so I assumed that at least one copy of the completed POL form made it to the required destination.

    That’s my story…good luck. If you’re living in Panama (and would no longer be considered resident in the USA) but are using a stateside address…be careful and don’t let that kick you in the butt. If you have a Panamanian spouse who qualifies to receive your SS benefits upon your death…and you are drawing SS benefits here in Panama…but are using a stateside address, you could create an unnecessary hardship for your spouse by not following the rules.

    As a side note…I filed a 2012 federal tax return using a stateside mailing address in Arkansas…a state that taxes personal income. I subsequently received a “tax due” letter from the State of Arkansas letting me know that I filed a federal tax return but didn’t file a 2012 Arkansas tax return and they included a request for several thousand dollars in back taxes (smile). I was able to straighten out this new problem with a phone call and emails with copies of my drivers licenses and passport pages.

    The IRS and SSA did not/do not like my mail forwarding address. I researched and learned several reasons for this. I won’t take the time to keyboard out that stuff here. The IRS and SSA are the only two entities in my world that have my local general delivery address in Panama. All the other entities in my life accept the mail forwarding address.

    Have a nice day (smile)

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