US Consulate Federal Benefits Unit Presentation
The US Consulate Federal Benefits Unit (FBU) gave a presentation at the American Legion in Chapala on Monday November 26, 2018.
The presenters were the new Regional Federal Benefits Officer, Rick Meyer and the head of the Guadalajara unit. Mr. Meyers has worked in the offices of Social Security in the United States for the past 28 years.
The Federal Benefits Unit (FBU) covers not only Social Security but VA and Railroad Retirement issues. All services are free and start with an email to firstname.lastname@example.org where you should provide your full legal name, complete address, phone numbers, your social security number as well as that of the person whose benefits you are claiming, your date of birth and ideally digital copies of all documents that may apply such as Birth / Marriage / Death certificates, social security cards, passports or IDs, divorce decrees, etc.
The standard time to respond to emails is 5 days although many times people have received faster responses.
Some points mentioned in the presentation were (please ask the FBU for clarification if any may apply to your specific situation):
* People who list an address in Mexico and receive SSI could have their benefits suspended.
* Correspondence is sent to your Mexican address by regular mail if you have specified a Mexican address.
* They said that they do not issue replacement Social Security cards at the consulate but that once you apply for the replacement that they are mailed from the US. They recommended using a US mailing address to avoid problems with the Mexican mail.
* Social Security recipients will be getting a 2.8% Cost of Living Adjustment for 2019.
* Federal Benefits can be paid in pesos and the US Government has an arrangement with the Bank of Mexico in order to provide a more favorable exchange rate.
* It is recommended to open a Mexican bank account so if you were to lose your debit card from your US account then the FBU can send payments to your Mexican bank account while you attempt to get a replacement debit card from your US institution which could require you to go to the US per certain bank policies.
*The FBU send out letters usually in June and September of each year to confirm people are still at same address, are still alive and have not changed their nationality of marital status. This seems to generally be for people with addresses listed in Mexico. If the letter is not returned then benefits may be suspended. In this case if you email the FBU they can email you the form to fill out and scan and email back to resume your benefits.
* For 2019 they will not send these letters out for disabled people who have a designated representative.
* They said that soon they may send communications where people can receive them by logging into the My SSA web page.
* People can opt out of Medicare part B, HOWEVER, if you do so and then decide to sign up again, you will be penalized by having the policy amount increase 10% for every year you opted out. So if you opted out for 1 year then decide to reinstate and your premium was $100.00 your new premium will be $110.00.
* People who list their addresses in Mexico will not be automatically enrolled in Medicare Part B upon reaching age 65, BUT, if they want to enroll in the future then the penalty above will apply.