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Federal Benefits

Contact Information

FEDERAL BENEFITS UNIT (FBU)

Within the American Citizens Services section in Bogota, the Federal Benefits Unit (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 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 our Regional office; therefore the American Citizen Service Unit cannot control the timeline for full responses.

There is limited Federal Benefits assistance available at the U.S. Consular Agency in Barranquilla.

Telephone calls on Federal Benefits issues are no longer accepted.  The exclusive method of communication is by email to FBUBogota@state.gov.  After reviewing the following website, please contact FBUBogota@state.gov with any questions. DO NOT appear at either the U.S. Embassy in Bogota or at the U.S. Consular Agency in Barranquilla seeking assistance regarding Federal Benefits, unless you have been specifically instructed by Embassy staff to do so. 

The FBU can provide assistance with the following retirement programs:

-SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION (SSA)
-VETERAN’S AFFAIRS (VA)
-OFFICE OF PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT/CIVIL SERVICE (OPM/CSA)
-RAILROAD RETIREMENT BOARD (RRB)

Does my request require an Appointment? 
Very few Social Security actions will require in-person visits to the Embassy or Consular Agency. The vast majority should be completed on-line or following on-line instructions. Only applications for first time claims like: RETIREMENT, DISABILITY, SPOUSE, CHILDREN, WIDOW, LUMP SUM benefits and First time SSN applications require an appointment at the US Embassy in Bogota or our Consular Agency in Barranquilla. Applicants for those services will be scheduled an appointment. Other appointments will be given on a case to case basis.

Please send us an email once you have gathered all the supporting documents for your claim (See Contact Info).

All other claims like: SSA-21(Data update), Direct Deposit, Cancelation of Medicare Part B, FEQ (“Proof of Life”) and others can be sent by mail to our office. Remember all forms must be complete, you must provide copy of your valid photo ID (US passport for US citizens) and other documents specific for each claim.

For other Benefits like Veteran Affairs or the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) please send us an email to FBUBogota@state.gov with your inquiries.

Click on each item in the table of contents below to jump to the information in the document.

  1. Social Security Number Card
  2. Benefits for the Worker: Retirement or Disability
  3. Benefits for the Worker’s Child or Disabled child
  4. Benefits for the Worker’s Spouse, Widow, Divorced spouse or Surviving divorced spouse
  5. Benefits for the Worker’s Parents
  6. Lump Sum Death Payments
  7. FEQ  (a.k.a Proof of life)
  8. DIRECT DEPOSIT Program
  9. Calendar Month (ANPP)
  10. Other Claims and Information (FAQ)
  11. CONTACT US
  12. Medicare
  13. Veterans Affairs
  14. Office of Personnel Management/Civil Service (OPM/CSA)
  15. Railroad Retirement Board

Social Security Number Card: Application for a new SSN card
For this information you can also visit: http://socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber/. For basic information on applying for a social security number for your child see here.

The first-time SSN application process takes around 6 to 8 months. The card will be mailed to the address you write on the form, to avoid delays, if possible use a US address on form SS-5 so the card will be sent o that secure address.

• For children under age 12, the documents needed for a new social security card application are:

Form SS-5 completed and signed by one US citizen parent and copies of:
- Copy of Colombian AND US birth certificates (if dual citizen)
- Copy of Child’s passport (US passport if US citizen)
- Copy of Signing parent’s valid passport (US passport)( contact us if either parent is a US citizen)
- Letter addressed to the Social Security Administration: Short explanation why the child didn’t get the SSN when he/she was registered as a US citizen

When you have gathered all of these documents, please send them to:
UNITED STATES EMBASSY BOGOTA
FEDERAL BENEFITS UNIT
CRA 45 #24B-27
BOGOTA, COLOMBIA

• For children over 12 years old, the documents needed for a new social security card application are:

Form SS-5 completed and signed by one US citizen parent
- Copy of Colombian AND US birth certificates (if dual citizen)
- Copy of Child’s passport (US passport if US citizen)
- Copy of signing parent’s valid passport (US passport)
- Letter addressed to the Social Security Administration: Short explanation why the child didn’t get the SSN when he/she was registered as a US citizen
- School certification of the years of education
- Employment certification (if the application is made after you finish your studies and have started working)

When you have gathered all of these documents (for first time applicants over 12 only) please send an email to FBUBogota@state.gov stating that you have all of the requirements described and ask for an appointment date for an interview at the US Embassy in Bogota or Consular Agency in Barranquilla.

  • Application to reissue a lost, stolen or destroyed SSN card:

For this information you can also visit: http://ssa.gov/ssnumber/ss5doc.htm

The SSN reissue process takes around 4 to 6 months. The card will be mailed to the address you write on the form, to avoid delays, if possible use a US address on form SS-5 so the card will be sent o that secure address.

• Form SS-5 completed and signed (for minors, signature of one US citizen parent)
• Copy of card holder’s valid ID (US passport if US citizen)
• Copy of  Certification of Naturalization or Consular Report of Birth Abroad (if dual citizen)
• Colombian AND US birth certificate (if dual citizen)
• Signing parent’s valid passport (US passport if US citizen)
• Letter addressed to the SSA with a short explanation of what happened to the previous card

When you have gathered all of these documents, please send them to:
UNITED STATES EMBASSY BOGOTA
FEDERAL BENEFITS UNIT
CRA 45 #24B-27
BOGOTA, COLOMBIA

  • Application to get only the Social Security number by email:

If you have lost or misplaced your child’s or your own SS card, 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.

• Form SSA-3288, completed (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)

When you have gathered all of these documents, please send them to:
UNITED STATES EMBASSY BOGOTA
FEDERAL BENEFITS UNIT
CRA 45 #24B-27
BOGOTA, COLOMBIA

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Benefits for the Worker: Retirement or Disability
Qualified US workers can apply for retirement benefits to begin at age 62 or later, see more information at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pgm/retirement.htm. Apply online at: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/planners/about.htm.

You will need original or certified copies of:
• Birth Certificate and/or Baptismal Record
• Valid ID (US passport if US citizen, COL ID and/or passport if Colombian citizen).

For requirements visit: http://socialsecurity.gov/pgm/retirement.htm

Qualified US workers can apply for disability benefits after suffering an job-related illness or accident, see more information at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/applyfordisability/
Apply online at: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/applyfordisability/
Form SSA-827

You will need original or certified copies of:
• Birth Certificate and/or Baptismal Record
• Valid ID (US passport if US citizen, COL ID and/or passport if Colombian citizen)
• Medical evidence

For requirements visit: http://socialsecurity.gov/pgm/disability.htm

When you have gathered all of these documents please send an email to FBUBogota@state.gov stating that you have all of the requirements described and ask for an appointment date for an interview at the US Embassy in Bogota or Consular Agency in Barranquilla.

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Benefits for the Worker’s Child or disabled Child
For child benefits see more information at http://socialsecurity.gov/pubs/EN-05-10026.pdf

You will need original or certified copies of:
• Birth Certificate and/or Baptismal Record
• Valid ID (US passport if US citizen, COL ID and/or passport if Colombian citizen)
Representative Payee:
• Valid ID (US passport if US citizen, COL ID and/or passport if Colombian citizen)
For requirements visit: http://socialsecurity.gov/pubs/EN-05-10085.pdf

For child disability benefits see more information at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/applyfordisability/child.htm
Form SSA-827

You will need original or certified copies of:
• Birth Certificate and/or Baptismal Record
• Valid ID (US passport if US citizen, COL ID and/or passport if Colombian citizen)
• Medical evidence
Representative Payee:
• Valid ID (US passport if US citizen, COL ID and/or passport if Colombian citizen)
Requirement: Be age 18 or over and disabled before age 22

When you have gathered all of these documents please send an email to FBUBogota@state.gov stating that you have all of the requirements described and ask for an appointment date for an interview at the US Embassy in Bogota or Consular Agency in Barranquilla.

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Benefits for the Worker’s Spouses, Widows, Divorced spouses or Surviving divorced spouses

For the Worker’s Spouses:
Apply online at: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/retire2/applying6.htm 
Form SSA-3885 (if claimant is receiving government pension)
You will need original or certified copies of:
• Birth Certificate and/or Baptismal Record
• Valid ID (US passport if US citizen, COL ID and/or passport if Colombian citizen)
• Marriage Certificate
For requirements visit: http://socialsecurity.gov/retire2/applying6.htm

Benefits for the Worker’s Widow
Forms SSA-3885 (if claimant is receiving government pension)
You will need original or certified copies of:
• Birth Certificate and/or Baptismal Record
• Valid ID (US passport if US citizen, COL ID and/or passport if Colombian citizen)
• Marriage certificate
• Death certificate
• Medical evidence (if disabled)
For requirements visit: http://socialsecurity.gov/online/ssa-10.html

Benefits for the Worker’s Divorced Spouse
Form SSA-3885 (if claimant is receiving government pension)
You will need original or certified copies of:
• Birth Certificate and/or Baptismal Record
• Valid ID (US passport if US citizen, COL ID and/or passport if Colombian citizen)
• Marriage certificate
• Divorce ruling
For requirements visit: http://socialsecurity.gov/online/ssa-10.html

Benefits for the Worker’s Surviving Divorced Spouse
Form SSA-3885 (if claimant is receiving government pension)
You will need original or certified copies of:
• Birth Certificate and/or Baptismal Record
• Valid ID (US passport if US citizen, COL ID and/or passport if Colombian citizen)
• Marriage certificate
• Divorce ruling
• Death certificate
For requirements visit: http://socialsecurity.gov/online/ssa-10.html

When you have gathered all of these documents please send an email to FBUBogota@state.gov stating that you have all of the requirements described and ask for an appointment date for an interview at the US Embassy in Bogota or Consular Agency in Barranquilla.

Benefits for the Worker’s Young Spouse with a Child in care

You will need original or certified copies of:
• Valid ID (US passport if US citizen, COL ID and/or passport if Colombian citizen)
• Marriage Certificate
• Child’s Birth Certificate
For requirements visit: http://socialsecurity.gov/pubs/EN-05-10085.pdf

When you have gathered all of these documents please send an email to FBUBogota@state.gov stating that you have all of the requirements described and ask for an appointment date for an interview at the US Embassy in Bogota or Consular Agency in Barranquilla.

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Benefits for the Worker’s Parents
You will need original or certified copies of:
• Birth Certificate and/or Baptismal Record (of parent).
• Valid ID (US passport if US citizen, COL ID and/or passport if Colombian citizen).
• Birth Certificate and/or Baptismal Record (of primary beneficiary).
• Death certificate.
• Evidence the beneficiary gave you one-half of your economic support.
For requirements visit: http://socialsecurity.gov/online/ssa-7.html

When you have gathered all of these documents please send an email to FBUBogota@state.gov stating that you have all of the requirements described and ask for an appointment date for an interview at the US Embassy in Bogota or Consular Agency in Barranquilla.

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Lump Sum Death Payment
This is a onetime payment made to eligible beneficiaries (e.g. widows, under aged children) to help with the funerary costs when the primary beneficiary passes away.
You will need original or certified copies of:
• Death certificate
• Marriage certificate
• Birth Certificate and/or Baptismal Record (for children)
• Valid ID (US passport if US citizen, COL ID and/or passport if Colombian citizen)

For requirements visit: http://socialsecurity.gov/survivorplan/ifyou7.htm

When you have gathered all of these documents please send an email to FBUBogota@state.gov stating that you have all of the requirements described and ask for an appointment date for an interview at the US Embassy in Bogota or Consular Agency in Barranquilla.

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Federal Enforcement Questionnaire (FEQ) (a.k.a.“Proof of Life” form)

The Social Security Administration sends out around 260,000 FEQs each year. It provides annual or biennial contact with all Retirement, Survivors, and Disability Insurance beneficiaries outside the United States. The purpose of the FEQ is to determine if benefits should be deducted, suspended, or terminated.

  • The FEQ mailings follow either of two schedules; annual or biennial. Form SSA-7161 are sent annually and form SSA-7162 are sent biennially
  • 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. It should always come with valid PHOTO ID (US passport if US citizen)
  • SSA-7161 is for beneficiaries who have a rep payee. The rep payee is responsible for completing it. It should always come with copy of the Rep Payee’s valid PHOTO ID (US passport if US citizen) and copy of the primary beneficiary’s valid PHOTO ID (US passport if US citizen)
  • Look at our sample forms for guidance on how to complete out the form if you require a blank one. Example 7161, Example 7162

IF YOU HAVE NOT RECEIVED THIS DOCUMENT IN YOUR RESIDENCE BY NOVEMBER, please contact us at FBUBogota@state.gov

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What is Direct Deposit?

Public Law 104-134 (Omnibus Consolidated Rescissions and Appropriations Act of 1996) requires that all Federal pensions including Social Security, Civil Service and Veterans shall be paid through Electronic Funds Transfer/Direct Deposit (ETF/DD).

Direct Deposit 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.

The electronic transfer to your bank account will be done on the 3rd day of the month; however, if the payment date coincides with a non-business day, the payment will be transmitted on the next business day.

  • How Do I Enroll in Direct Deposit while living in Colombia?

Take to any Bancolombia Office:
• Direct Deposit Sign-up form (SF-1199)
• Your Social Security card, or
• a benefit’s check or photocopy of one, or
• any communication/letter from the Social Security Administration or Veterans Affairs.

Open a savings account or ask to use an existing account (the bank will enroll it in the agreement for US retirement beneficiaries and Bancolombia).
Leave this form duly completed and signed with the bank officer. Please verify bank charges for services and account fees.

IF THE BANK OFFICER HAS ANY QUESTIONS, ASK HIM TO CONTACT BANCOLOMBIA HQ IN MEDELLIN AT (4) 404-1825

Once this process is done, provide your account number and contact information to FBUBogota@state.gov. Please do this as soon as possible as the process will take approximately 30 to 60 days. While the direct deposit form is in process, we will continue distributing the checks by mail or deposit to your US account.

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Calendar Month (Alien Non Payment Provision)

US law requires that certain beneficiaries stay physically inside the U.S. for a full calendar month (FCM) to receive payment of benefits for the following 6 months said beneficiary is outside the US. The beneficiary must enter the US before midnight of the first day of the month and exit after midnight of the last day of the month. The requirement won’t be met and the benefits won’t be paid if the beneficiary enters the US on the first day of the month or exits before the last day of the FCM (travel can be made 1 or 2 days before and after each month to avoid inconveniences or delays).

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.

To report your FCM you have to present:
• Passport with immigration stamps
• Airline ticket/itinerary
• Boarding passes of both flights
• Letter stamped in a SSA office at the beginning of your trip. (Use our template form SSA-795CMssa)
• Letters of two people certifying the dates and place of your stay, signed and with contact information. (Use our template form SSA-795CM witness )
 
Exceptions: 
Number Holder has 40 credits or 10 years of US work.
• Number Holder has RRB service.
• Beneficiary is active MS while outside the US.
• Beneficiary is a citizen of a totalization country.
• Beneficiary lived in the US for at least 5 years with the Number Holder (submission of proof is needed such as: travel documents, US driver license, evidence of employment in the US, proof of credit cards, bank accounts, etc).

BOAN (Beneficiary’s Own Social Security Number): is the assignment of a SSN to someone when the beneficiary does not qualify for the assignment based on subject’s entitlement to SSA monthly benefits.

Alien Tax Provision: beneficiaries who aren’t US residents and don’t file US income tax returns on a yearly basis, will be taxed 25.5% of their benefits.

Exceptions: 
• US citizens.
• Aliens who are US residents.
• Non resident aliens who are residents of countries which have tax treaties with the US.
• Beneficiary citizens of American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands and Puerto Rico.

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Other Claims and Information (FAQs)
Always include with the forms, copy of a valid photo ID (US passport if US citizen, COL ID and/or passport if Colombian citizen).
Some forms may require additional documents to be shown as proof.

Reconsideration - SSA-561
Waiver of Overpayment or change in Repayment rate - SSA-632
Continuing Disability Review Report - SSA-454
Representative Payee Report - SSA-623
Disability Update Report - SSA-455-1
Request for Deceased individual’s Social Security Record - SSA-711
School Certification Regarding Continued Attendance - SSA-1372
Amounts Due to a Social Security Recipient - SSA-1724
Request for Social Security Statement - SSA-7004

Acronyms:
W/E
- Wage Earner
N/H - Number Holder
FRA - Full Retirement Age
ERA - Early Retirement Age
LSDP - Lump Sum Death Payment
BOAN - Beneficiary’s Own Social Security Number
ITIN - Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (provided by the IRS)

Effects of Removal (Deportation) on Retirement or Disability benefits: http://policy.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0302635001

If you suspect FRAUD: http://ssa-custhelp.ssa.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/329/~/identity-theft%2C-fraud-or-misuse-of-my-social-security-or-medicare-card

To report SSA or MEDICARE FRAUD: http://ssa-custhelp.ssa.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/48/~/reporting-social-security-fraud 

Information on earning SSA credits: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/retire2/credits1.htm

To report the DEATH of a SSA beneficiary:
If the beneficiary was a US citizen: To get a CONSULAR REPORT OF DEATH ABROAD, please contact us at: ACSbogota@state.gov
 
If the beneficiary was NOT a US citizen: provide Social Security card and/or Medicare card or other SSA correspondence and Colombian Notary death certificate.
 
To REGISTER your address in Colombia: the first time you register your new residence address in Colombia use form SSA-21, complete it, sign it (#18a) and with a copy of your signed and valid US passport (US citizens) or COL passport/ID send it to the Embassy in Bogota.

To UPDATE your contact information: whenever your information changes, please send us an email.

For Colombian VISA or BANK certifications: For the certification send us the original of form DS-5505, complete it (include your SSN), sign it, add a copy of any communication from the SSA and/or VA that shows the amounts you receive and with a copy of your valid ID (US passport for US citizens) send it to our FBU office in the US Embassy in Bogota. 

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CONTACT US

Mailing address:
UNITED STATES EMBASSY
Federal Benefits Unit Bogota
CRA 45 #24B-27
BOGOTA, COLOMBIA

Coming to your appointment:
UNITED STATES EMBASSY
CALLE 24BIS #48-50
BOGOTA, COLOMBIA

Our consular agency in Barranquilla will only be able to forward documents to FBU Bogota.
CONSULAR AGENCY
CALLE 77B #57-141
OFICINA 511
CENTRO EMPRESARIAL LAS AMÉRICAS
BARRANQUILLA, ATLANTICO
COLOMBIA

EMAILING US
If your process requires an appointment e-mail us at:
FBUBOGOTA@STATE.GOV

Please be sure to look up the information you require in this website.
If you can’t find the answer to your question or need further information on it, please email us at FBUBogota@state.gov.

Remember following these guidelines to help us provide you with a more efficient service:
-always use your name as it appears on your Social Security card or Medicare card
-always use the correct SSN (yours or the SSN of the person that worked in the US)

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Medicare
Medicare coverage works only within the US territory.

Part A (Hospital)
Hospital insurance is free and you will be enrolled in it automatically, coverage only inside the US.
Part B (Medical)
This service gives you medical coverage only inside the US.

Please visit http://socialsecurity.gov/pgm/medicare.htm for information on applying for Medicare.

If you have MEDICARE PART B and have chosen to cancel the service: (SSA webpage requires people to contact an office to get info about cancellations and they have a different form)
Please use form CMS-2690 and with a copy of your valid photo ID (US passport if US citizen) send it to our address.
Remember that if cancelled you would have to pay any medical costs out of pocket when you are in the US unless you are travelling with health insurance.

For more information read: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/EN-05-10043.pdf 

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Veterans Affairs (VA)
Veteran Affairs has an extremely complete and user friendly interface on-line, all your information changes and updates can be done at: http://www.va.gov/
You will also find very helpful information on the benefits booklet for specific topics at: http://www.va.gov/opa/publications/benefits_book.asp

For DIRECT DEPOSIT in Colombia you can choose BANCOLOMBIA.
Go to the DIRECT DEPOSIT section on this website to complete form SF-1109A,
Complete VA FORM 24-0296
And a copy of your valid and signed photo ID (US passport for US citizens)
Send it to our address:
UNITED STATES EMBASSY BOGOTA
FEDERAL BENEFITS UNIT
CRA 45 #24B-27
BOGOTA, COLOMBIA

For other information contact us at FBUBogota@state.gov

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Office of Personnel Management /Civil Service (OPM/CSA)
For more information on OPM benefits, please visit: http://www.opm.gov/
For DIRECT DEPOSIT in Colombia you can choose BANCOLOMBIA. Go to the DIRECT DEPOSIT section on this website to complete form SF-1109A,
Complete form RI38-128 And a copy of your valid and signed photo ID (US passport for US citizens)

Send it to our address:
UNITED STATES EMBASSY BOGOTA
FEDERAL BENEFITS UNIT
CRA 45 #24B-27
BOGOTA, COLOMBIA

For other information contact us at FBUBogota@state.gov

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Railroad Retirement Road (RRB)
For more information on RRB benefits, please visit: https://secure.rrb.gov/

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Visiting and Contacting