FEDERAL BENEFITS (FBU)
Within the American Citizens Services office in Bogota, the Federal Benefits section (FBU) provides assistance to persons residing in Colombia who are already receiving or who are eligible to apply for U.S. federal retirement benefits.
This office serves as a liaison office, and as such forwards all claims for benefits to the Latin America Regional SSA Office located in the U.S. Embassy San Jose where the claims will be processed.
After we forward an application for claim, all information about a beneficiary’s application status must come from the SSA Regional office; therefore the American Citizen Service office cannot control the timeline for full responses.
There is limited Federal Benefits assistance available at the U.S. Consular Agency in Barranquilla.
PLEASE DO NOT visit the U.S. Embassy or Consular Agency seeking assistance on Federal Benefits issues unless you have been given an appointment by a staff member of the U.S. Embassy or Consular Agency.
You will need an appointment for some services, such as: Reporting a full calendar month, applying for a social security card, submitting evidence requested for a specific claim, or submitting evidence requested to support a representative payee application.
Prior to requesting an appointment or sending us an email, please read through the information posted on this page as it might respond to your inquiry.
To request an appointment or to obtain information, you can contact Federal Benefits at FBUBOGOTA@STATE.GOV and include the following information in your email:
- Complete name of beneficiary
- Social security number through which the benefits are received
- Two contact numbers where you may be reached (include city code)
- Home address (include city)
- Reason for your inquiry: (Ex: did not receive monthly benefit, report calendar month, retirement benefits, widow benefits, etc.)
Our office may assist you in the following Federal Benefits:
- SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION (SSA)
- VETERAN AFFAIRS (VA)
- OFFICE OF PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT (OPM) / CIVIL SERVICE (CSRS)
- RAILROAD RETIREMENT BOARD (RRB)
Below, please find a list of some of the services we provide on behalf of the Social Security Administration. This office serves as a liaison and as such sends all applications to the Regional SSA office for Latin America located at the U.S. Embassy in San Jose, Costa Rica where the claims are processed.
The “My Social Security” internet service is not available to individuals with overseas mailing addresses. However, you may place your Colombian address or Bancolombia account information in the “remarks” section of the online application.
- APPLYING FOR A SOCIAL SECURITY CARD
- DATA UPDATE / CHANGE OF ADDRESS
- CANCELLING MEDICARE PART B
- ENROLLMENT IN DIRECT DEPOSIT PROGRAM
- REQUEST A PROOF OF INCOME OR BENEFITS VERIFICATION LETTER (CERTIFICATION)
- APPLYING FOR SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS
- ENROLLMENT IN MEDICARE PART A AND B (MEDICAL AND HOSPITAL INSURANCE)
- FOREIGN ENFORCEMENT QUESTIONARE (FEQ) – SSA7161/SSA 7162
- FULL CALENDAR MONTH REPORTS
- REPORT DEATH OF BENEFICIARY
- HOW DO I EARN SOCIAL SECURITY CREDITS AND HOW MANY DO I NEED TO QUALIFY FOR BENEFITS?
- HOW DO I PAY SOCIAL SECURITY CREDITS IF I AM LIVING OVERSEAS?
You may apply for an original or replacement Social Security card at the Federal Benefits section. You will need an appointment to submit all the required paperwork. After you have gathered all the required documents, you may request an appointment by writing to FBUBOGOTA@STATE.GOV
Who is eligible for a Social Security Card? U.S. Citizens and Non-Citizens who have permission to work from the Department of Homeland Security can apply for a Social Security number.
- What documents will you need at the time of application?
- Read more about Non-Citizen requirements (PDF 128 KB)
U.S. Citizen Children Born in Colombia
Children born in Colombia and documented as U.S. Citizens through the Consular Report of Birth Abroad (“CRBA”) process must apply for a Social Security Card. They may apply for the card after completing the CRBA process and obtaining a U.S. passport. At the time of application, you will need the CRBA, U.S. Passport, and Colombia Birth Registration (original certified by a Colombian Notary) for the child, as well as valid identification for the U.S. citizen parent (U.S. passport).
Non-Resident Aliens / Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)
Several classes of non-resident aliens are required to obtain an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) in order to file U.S. taxes. To obtain an ITIN, you must file IRS Form W-7 with the Internal Revenue Service. You may obtain a W-7 form from the Consular Section’s U.S. Citizens Services (ACS) Unit, by appointment only, or via the Internet (PDF 87 KB)
Applying to receive ONLY the Social Security number:
If you have lost or misplaced your child’s or your own SS card, or you don’t remember the SS number and don’t have time to wait for the reissue process, this will get you your SS number via email in 10 business days.
You will need to request an appointment by writing to FBUBOGOTA@STATE.GOV and you must present the following documents on the day of your appointment:
- Form SSA-3288 completely filled out (include your email address) and signed (for minors, signature of parent)
- Copy of number holder’s valid passport (US passport if US citizen)
- Copy of signing parent’s passport (US passport if US citizen) (for minors)
If you receive Social Security benefits and have moved from the U.S. or any country to Colombia, you need to report your new address to the Federal Benefits section.
The new address you provide MUST be a foreign address. You cannot provide a U.S. address to the Social Security Administration if you are living outside of the U.S., if you do so, this may cause temporary suspension of your benefits when agencies paying your benefits are informed that you are living outside the U.S.
To update your contact information or address, send an email to FBUBOGOTA@STATE.GOV including the following information:
- SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER OF “NUMBER HOLDER” (THIS IS THE INDIVIDUAL THAT WORKED IN THE U.S.)
- NAME OF THE “NUMBER HOLDER” (THIS IS THE INDIVIDUAL THAT WORKED IN THE U.S.)
- NAME OF BENEFICIARY (IF DIFFERENT FROM THE WORKER)
- SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER OF BENEFICIARY (IF DIFFERENT FROM THE WORKER)
- ADDRESS (INCLUDE CITY AND COUNTRY)
- TELEPHONE (INCLUDE COUNTRY AND CITY CODE)
- CELL PHONE (INCLUDE COUNTRY CODE)
After we receive your new information, we will notify the Regional SSA office so they can proceed to update your information in the SSA system.
Medicare Part B is the service that provides medical coverage inside the U.S. If you cancel this service and you travel to the U.S. and become ill or suffer an accident, you will be responsible for any medical fees that you incur while in the U.S.
To cancel Medicare Part B, send the following in a PDF format to FBUBOGOTA@STATE.GOV
- Form CMS-2690 completely filled out (typed), print it, date it, sign it (needs to be signed the same way you sign your identity document or passport)
- Include phone number, cell phone number and email
- Copy of your signed identity document, U.S. passport if you’re a U.S. citizen (all identity documents you provide must be valid)
Social Security beneficiaries in Colombia have the option to obtain their benefits through direct deposit. The Direct Deposit Program is the mechanism by which your payments are electronically transferred to your bank account. It is the most convenient and fastest mode of payment because you will not depend on the courier service to receive your benefits.
How do I enroll in the Direct Deposit Program?
For instructions on how to enroll, please click here
Take the following to any Bancolombia office:
- Direct Deposit Sign-up form (SF-1199)
- Your Social Security card
- Benefit’s check or photocopy of one
- Any communication/letter from the Social Security Administration or Veterans Affairs.
Open a savings account or ask to use an existing account (the bank MUST enroll your account in the
agreement between US retirement beneficiaries and Bancolombia).
Leave the form SF-1199 duly completed and signed with the bank officer.
IF THE BANK OFFICER HAS ANY QUESTIONS, ASK HIM TO CONTACT BANCOLOMBIA HQ IN MEDELLIN AT (4) 404-1825
process may take up to 60 days to be completed. While the direct deposit form
is in process, the SSA will continue to pay your benefits in the form you’re
currently receiving them.
If you need proof that you are receiving Social Security benefits, you can request a benefits verification letter (certification). This letter is sometimes called a “budget letter,” a “benefits letter,” a “proof of income letter,” or a “proof of award letter”.
To request a verification (certification) letter, send us the following in a PDF file to FBUBOGOTA@STATE.GOV
- Form DS-5505 completely filled out (typed) and signed
- Copy of your valid photo ID (US passport for US citizens)
- Copy of any communication from the SSA, VA or bank statement that shows the amounts you receive
- If you live outside of Bogota, provide your current address in Colombia where you want us to mail you the letter
Do not forget to specify who the letter should be addressed to.
If you live in Bogota, we will provide you with an appointment so that you or someone you trust may pick up the letter. Please inform us in the email you send us with your documents if someone else will be picking up the letter for you.
If you live outside of Bogota, your certification letter will be sent by courier service within the next 5 business days after your documents have been received.
Social Security Earnings Statements
The Social Security Administration has suspended the regional office issuance of Social Security Earnings Statements. However, an individual can download and complete the Form SSA-7004, “Request for Social Security Statement”, then print, sign, and mail it to request a statement.
For an overview of the information the Social Security Administration Requests on the internet application, please visit the following link.
You may view a short demo video on how to apply for benefits online HERE
If you do not meet the above categories of beneficiaries, please send us the following information to FBUBOGOTA@STATE.GOV :
- Type of benefit you are requesting (Ex: retirement, widow, spouse, lump sum, disability, representative payee, child, mother with child in care, etc.)
- Information of the U.S. wage earner / worker
- Name of worker (name, middle, last):
- Social security number of worker:
- Date of birth of worker (mm/dd/yyyy):
- Date of death of worker (mm/dd/yyyy):
- Date of disability of worker (mm/dd/yyyy):
- Address (include city and country):
- Home telephone (include city code):
- Cellphone number:
3. Information of applicant (if different from above/worker)
- Name (name, middle, last):
- Social security number:
- Date of birth (mm/dd/yyyy):
- Date of disability (mm/dd/yyyy):
Please explore the following links for more information on benefits:
- Retirement benefits (PDF 369 KB)
- Residency requirements if you are applying for spouse or widow(er) benefits (PDF 429 KB)
- Wife/Husband benefits (PDF 369 KB)
- Widow(er) Benefits/Surviving Divorced Spouse
- Children Benefits
- Lump Sum death benefits
- Disability benefits: The number of work credits needed for disability benefits depends on your age when you become disabled. Generally, you need 40 credits, 20 of which were earned in the last 10 years ending with the year you became disabled. However, younger workers may qualify with fewer credits. Check HERE for the rules that apply.
Please note that Medicare does not provide any coverage for medical or hospital services outside of the United States.
- You can apply for Medicare online here.
- For official information on Medicare coverage outside the U.S., please review the pamphlet Medicare Coverage Outside the U.S. (PDF 206 KB)
- For additional information on Medicare.
The Social Security Administration contacts beneficiaries outside the United States annually or biennially to verify their current status if they have a foreign address on record. The purpose of the FEQ is to determine if benefits should be deducted, suspended, or terminated.
- SSNs ending in 00-49 are sent questionnaires in even numbered years (e.g. 2014, 2016, 2018)
- SSNs ending in 50-99 are sent questionnaires in odd numbered years (e.g. 2015, 2017, 2019)
- SSA-7162 is for beneficiaries who are their own rep payee.
- SSA-7161 is for beneficiaries who have a rep payee. The rep payee is responsible for completing it.
- Look at our sample forms for guidance on how to complete out the form if you require a blank one. SSA-7161 (example), SSA-7162 (example)
If your benefits have been suspended, please follow the instructions below:
- Print the form SSA-7162 or SSA-7161 (depending on which form applies to your case)
- View an example of form SSA-7162 (example) properly filled out
- Include your name, address, telephone and social security number
- Fill it out in the computer, answer the questions, print it, sign and date the form.
- Email a scanned PDF copy of the completed form to SJREGION@SSA.GOV
YOU MUST MAIL the original completed and signed form ONLY to:
Wilkes Barre Data Operations Center
Attention: FEQ Analyst, FEQ Forms 7161-7162
1150 E. Mountain Dr.
Wilkes Barre, PA 18702-7997
Certain non-U.S. citizens can receive Social Security regular monthly benefit payments after residing lawfully in the United States of America for one full calendar month. They are required to live in the U.S. for one month each time they are outside of the U.S. for six full consecutive months and wish to receive payments. If the beneficiary does not travel, the benefits will be suspended until the evidence for the FCM has been reported at the FBU Bogota office.
This requirement applies to beneficiaries eligible to receive a payment but who:
- Are NOT a U.S. citizen, or
- Were NOT initially eligible for monthly benefits before January 2, 1985, or
- Have NOT resided in the U.S. for at least five years
You must report completing your full calendar month to receive payment.
Once you have completed your full calendar month visit, you must present the following documents to the Federal Benefits section in person:
- Passport with immigration stamps (entry and exit stamp to/from the U.S.)
- Airline ticket/itinerary
- Boarding passes
- Form SSA-795 CMssa stamped by a SSA office at the end of your U.S. trip.
- Form SSA-795 CM witness filled out by two individuals certifying the dates and place of your stay, signed and including their contact information.
The forms do not need to be notarized.
When you return from your trip and have all the required documents ready, please request an appointment by writing to FBUBOGOTA@STATE.GOV so that you may report your full calendar month.
On the day of your appointment we will ask you to complete and sign a statement that includes:
- The dates you entered and left the U.S.
- The address at which you stayed
- A statement that you did not go outside of the U.S. at any time during the month you were present in the U.S.
Example: how to comply with a One Full Calendar Month in the U.S. This means you have to be lawfully present in the U.S. before the first minute of the first day of a month and stay until after the last minute of the last day of that month.
The Federal Benefits section should be notified as soon as possible when a beneficiary dies. You may report the death of a beneficiary by sending an email to FBUBOGOTA@STATE.GOV including the following information:
INFORMATION OF DECEASED
- Last name of deceased:
- Name/Middle name of deceased:
- Social Security number:
- Date of Birth (mm/dd/yyyy):
- Date of death (mm/dd/yyyy):
- Address where the deceased lived:
INFORMATION OF REPORTER
- Full name of reporter:
- Relationship to deceased:
- Address of reporter:
- Country of residence:
- Phone number (include country and city code):
- Phone number 2 (include country and city code):
- Additional information:
Additional information for deceased beneficiaries that were U.S. citizens:
If the beneficiary that passed was a U.S. citizen, you will need
to report the death with the U.S. Citizens Services Office so that they may
issue a “Consular Report of Death Abroad” (CRODA).
Visit the following link for additional information: http://bogota.usembassy.gov/death.html
The SSA uses your total yearly earnings to figure your Social Security credits. The amount needed to earn one credit increases automatically each year when average wages increase.
You must earn a certain number of credits to qualify for Social Security benefits. The number of credits you need depends on your age when you apply and the type of benefit application. No one needs more than 40 credits for any Social Security benefit. During your lifetime, you probably will earn more credits than the minimum number you need to be eligible for benefits. These extra credits do not increase your benefit amount. Your average earnings over your working years determine how much your monthly payment will be.
If you are self-employed, you earn Social Security credits the same way employees do (one credit for each $1,200 in net earnings, but no more than four credits per year). Special rules apply if you have net annual earnings of less than $400. For more information, you can read the ”How you earn credits.” (PDF 302 KB)
U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad may need to file and pay taxes to earn Social Security Credits from their work. If you are not a U.S. Citizen or Resident Alien then you do not qualify to pay Social Security credits while living abroad. To check the filing requirement to earn Social Security credits as a .S. Citizens or US Resident Alien abroad please visit the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) webpage to complete the proper IRS Tax Form depending on your situation.
Important information on where, when and how to file if you are living abroad may be found at the IRS web page.
For detailed information on Foreign Electronic Payments to the IRS.
Further Inquiries or concerns regarding U.S. Taxes should be directed to the IRS or a private U.S. tax preparation agent.
Veterans may apply for benefits on-line from overseas using their home computer. The Veterans Online Application (VONAPP) requires that you have one of four specific browsers installed on your computer and a minimum capability of 128-bit encryption. If you do not currently have the correct browser, you can download one for free from the Veterans Benefits website. The Veterans Benefits website will tell you if you need to download encryption software, and they will provide a free download link if this is the case. Please note that the encryption may not work in all countries.
How to contact the Department of Veterans Affairs?
- Contact information for VA
- More information on VA Services
and Benefits for U.S. Veterans Living Abroad
Veterans Affairs Publications:
How to contact the US Office of Personnel Management (OPM)?
OPM Publications of Interest
- Survivors Benefits for Children
- Thinking about Retirement? (pdf-462 KB)
- Life Events and Your Retirement Benefits (pdf-777 KB)
CIVIL SERVICE (CSRS)
How to contact the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB)?
The Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) administers comprehensive retirement-survivor and unemployment-sickness benefit programs for the nation's railroad workers and their families. The RRB also administers certain Social Security benefit payments and railroad workers' Medicare coverage.
The American Citizen Services office will be closed on Friday June 24th. We will resume normal service hours on Monday June 27th.
Please click here to review the American Citizens Service Office's holiday schedule
INFORMATION ABOUT SOCIAL SECURITY
COST OF LIVING ADJUSTMENT 2016
With consumer prices down over the past year, monthly Social Security benefits will not automatically increase in 2016.
The Social Security Act provides for an automatic increase in Social Security benefits if there is an increase in inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). The period of consideration includes the third quarter of the last year a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) was made to the third quarter of the current year. As determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there was no increase in the CPI-W from the third quarter of 2014 to the third quarter of 2015. Therefore, under existing law, there can be no COLA in 2016.
In 2016, the standard Part B premium amount will be $121.80 (or higher depending on your income). However, most people who get Social Security benefits will continue to pay the same Part B premium amount as they paid in 2015. This is because there wasn't a cost-of-living increase for 2016 Social Security benefits.
Information about cost of living adjustment can be found at www.socialsecurity.gov/cola
Information about Medicare changes for 2016 can be found at http://redirect.state.sbu/?url=https://www.medicare.gov/your-medicare-costs/part-b-costs/part-b-costs.html