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US Embassy Bangkok, Thailand: Announcement Regarding Social Security

Transcript of the above video:

In this video today, we're going to be reading and discussing a recent announcement from the U.S. embassy here in Bangkok with respect to U.S. social security matters: U.S. social security cards, U.S. Social Security benefits, just Social Security generally really quickly. Notice regarding Social Security services, this notice was sent out this week by the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok which I do have to say, they do a pretty good job of keeping people updated with different regulatory things that may have an impact on U.S. citizens abroad sort of in a day-to-day context.

To quote this, the Social Security Administration SSA has consolidated its overseas operations into several regional offices that provide a full range of SSA services for U.S. citizens residing outside of the United States. Effective October 1st, 2017, individuals residing in Thailand who require social security services or have questions about SSA benefits must contact the SSA Federal Benefits unit located in the U.S. Embassy Manila Philippines rather than the U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate in Thailand. Please be advised that as of October 1st 2017, the U.S. embassy and U.S. consulate in Thailand can no longer accept telephone calls, emails or walk-in consultations regarding social security issues. For more information or any questions about services provided at the U.S. Embassy in Manila, Philippines and how to contact them, visit their web page. I'm not going to spell out their webpage but I think if you google U.S. Embassy Manila and just also throw in Social Security, that's going to come on pretty quickly. For comprehensive information on SSA services abroad, please visit their webpage.

If you are already receiving SSA benefit payments, there will be no change in the method of distribution of those payments. So they're not really changing anything having to do with the distribution of Social Security benefits per se. They're basically changing the interface if you will of how you contact Social Security for purposes of discussing matters pertaining to one's benefits. I suspect obtaining social security cards, things of that nature.

There are a lot of issues that come up with respect to Social Security here in Thailand or just generally for expats. A notable thing is you there are not a few American citizens who basically are sort of, I don't want to say American citizens by accident but just happen to have been born in the U.S. and have U.S. citizenship and may have lived abroad the vast majority of their lives and at some point decide to move back to the United States, it's often the case that they don't have a Social Security card and obtaining a Social Security card rather late in life can be something of a predicament. I can say anecdotally over the years I've noticed having gone down to deal with ACS (American Citizen Services) in various capacities and also having to deal with the cashiers for paying the fees and that's associated with immigration benefits. The ACS unit gets not a few inquiries pertaining directly to Social Security and quite frankly, it has proven to be a little bit difficult on those folks because that's not their primary function and Social Security and the matters associated therewith are pretty complex. And I think for that reason it was probably decided probably on a higher level than the embassy even, this is probably done you know somewhere in the formidable bureaucracy back in the United States, it would appear to me it was decided that the they needed to consolidate these functions and they needed to consolidate the communication portal by which people get information related to this to this issue.

I suspect that as a result of being consolidated, it'll probably be run a little bit more efficiently albeit of kind of at a distance from those here in Thailand. But that being said, I got to be honest having dealt with a few social security matters on behalf of clients in the past, for the most part it's always been my experience that for the most part, we ended up calling down the Social Security office in the Philippines before anyway as again aside from a few sort of routine matters, most officers here at the Embassy were not well equipped through no fault of their own. They’re Department of State personnel. They don't work directly for the Social Security Administration. They weren't well equipped to deal with some of the more detailed sort of nuanced and quite frankly in some cases unique and novel issues that came up with respect to Social Security.

I think overall this is probably a good thing. I in my dealings with theirs Social Security office down there in Manila Philippines, I've always had good experiences yeah you're dealing with folks over the phone but for the most part they're very receptive and easy to deal with. That being said, it remains to be seen exactly how this is going to work moving forward but I just kind of figured that those who subscribe to this channel and are looking for information like this probably wanted a full explanation as to what's going on with respect to this issue.