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.
Prior to requesting an appointment, please read through the information posted on this page as it might respond to your inquiry. For inquiries or to obtain information regarding your claim, please use our:
We operate on an appointments-only system. You will need an appointment for 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. To request an appointment, please click here.
Our office may assist you in the following Federal Benefits:
SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION (SSA)
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
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, to request an appointment, please click here.
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 must submit a notarized true copy of your passport along with your W-7 to the IRS. You may obtain a notarized true copy of your passport from the American Citizens Services office by appointment only, for information on notary services and fees click here.
To download the W-7 form online, click here (PDF 92KB).
The IRS is implementing significant changes made to the ITIN program under the PATH Act of 2015. The new law means that any ITIN not used on a federal tax return at least once in the last three years will no longer be valid as of January 1, 2017 for use on a tax return unless the taxpayer renews the ITIN. In addition, all ITINs issued prior to 2013 will begin to expire this year and taxpayers will need to renew them.
To learn if you may need to renew your ITIN, click here.
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 clicking here and you must present the following documents on the day of your appointment:
- Form SSA-3288 (PDF 187KB) 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)
Data Update / Change Of Address
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.
Cancelling Medicare Part B
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 SJREGION@SSA.GOV
- Form CMS-2690 (PDF 13.6 KB) 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)
Enrollment In Direct Deposit Program
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.
Direct Deposit Options if you reside in Colombia
- Direct Deposit to a U.S. Bank Account – You will need to supply the U.S. account information to the Federal Benefits Unit of the Regional Social Security Office in San Jose Costa Rica. Please provide your U.S. Bank information by using the online form.
- Direct Deposit to your Bancolombia account – For instructions on how to enroll, please click here (PDF 140KB)
Take the following to any Bancolombia office:
- Direct Deposit Sign-up form (SF-1199)(PDF 41KB)
- 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
This 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.
3. Direct Express – www.usdirectexpress.com (Frequently Asked Questions about the Direct Express Program: https://fiscal.treasury.gov/GoDirect/about-faq/index.html)
Request A Proof Of Income Or Benefits Verification Letter (Certification)
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 (PDF 226 KB) 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.
Applying For Social Security Benefits
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 click here to fill-out our Contact Form mentioning the type of benefit you are requesting (Ex: retirement, widow, spouse, lump sum, disability, representative payee, child, mother with child in care, etc.)
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.
Enrollment In Medicare Part A And B (Medical And Hospital Insurance)
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.
- For additional information on Medicare.
Foreign Enforcement Questionare (Feq) – Ssa7161/Ssa 7162
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 (PDF 164 KB) is for beneficiaries who are their own rep payee.
- SSA-7161 (PDF 175 KB) 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) (PDF 213 KB), SSA-7162 (example) (PDF 212 KB)
IF YOU HAVE NOT RECEIVED THIS DOCUMENT IN YOUR RESIDENCE BY NOVEMBER of your corresponding year, please print out form SSA-7162 (PDF 164 KB) or SSA-7161 (PDF 175 KB) (depending on which form applies to your case)
To avoid having your benefits being suspended or if your benefits have been suspended because you didn’t file the FEQ, please follow the instructions below:
- Print the form SSA-7162 (PDF 164 KB) or SSA-7161 (PDF 175 KB) (depending on which form applies to your case)
- View an example of form SSA-7162 (example) (PDF 212 KB), SSA-7161 (example) (PDF 213 KB) 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:
Social Security Administration
Wilkes Barre Data Operations Center
Attention: FEQ Analyst, FEQ Forms 7161-7162
1150 E. Mountain Dr.
Wilkes Barre, PA 18702-7997
Full Calendar Month Reports
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.
HOW TO REPORT MY FULL CALENDAR MONTH
You DO NOT need an appointment for this process. You can report your Full Calendar Month by sending an email to SJREGION@SSA.GOV with the following attachments:
- FCM-795-SP completely filled out, signed, dated (send in PDF format)
- Copy of boarding passes (itinerary) showing your dates of travel
- Copy of the biographical page of your passport
- Copy of your Visa
- Copy of the U.S. entry stamp corresponding to this trip
- Copy of your Colombian entry stamp corresponding to this trip
- Hotel/Lodging receipts or signed letters from witnesses that confirm you never left the U.S. during the calendar month
You may send the required documents to the Regional Federal Benefits Unit by email at SJREGION@SSA.GOV or by fax to: +506-2291-1032. In the subject line, please indicate FCM – COLOMBIA – Last Name of the person that worked 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.
Report Death Of Beneficiary
The Federal Benefits section should be notified as soon as possible when a beneficiary dies. To report the death of a beneficiary, please fill-out our Contact Form. Under “ISSUE”, please provide 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:
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).
Please click here for additional information.
How Do I Earn Social Security Credits And How Many Do I Need To Qualify For Benefits?
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)
How Do I Pay Social Security Credits If I’m Living Overseas?
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.
OFFICE OF PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT (OPM) / CIVIL SERVICE (CSRS)
How to contact the US Office of Personnel Management (OPM)?
OPM Publications of Interest
- Survivors Benefits for Children (PDF 462KB)
- Thinking about Retirement? (PDF 462 KB)
- Life Events and Your Retirement Benefits (PDF 777 KB)
CIVIL SERVICE (CSRS)
RAILROAD RETIREMENT BOARD (RRB)
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.