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USA Topic: Expats telling Social Security they live at a U.S. address, is that fraud?


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I'm sure that there are a number of US expats that "snowbird" by living in Thailand for 5-7 months a year and then spend the remainder in the US.  Their SS payments would be deposited into their US bank each and every month.  They would then use that as they see fit for their situation.  Not sure what would happen if they receive a POL letter at their US residence while they are halfway through their "snowbird" period in Thailand.  The Post Office usually only holds mail for 30 days.  

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A person is in violation of U.S. laws/regulations regarding payment of social security pension benefits by not notifying the SSA you are living outside the U.S.  Various U.S. laws/regulations prohibit

Yes, definately fraud, my UK friend has been found out, now he is paying back monthly what he owes

OK, to start off I have an academic interest in this only.  I personally have a social security claim based on my Thai address.  I know for a fact LOTS of expats in Thailand and elsewhere do

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2 hours ago, Hanuman2547 said:

I'm sure that there are a number of US expats that "snowbird" by living in Thailand for 5-7 months a year and then spend the remainder in the US.  Their SS payments would be deposited into their US bank each and every month.  They would then use that as they see fit for their situation.  Not sure what would happen if they receive a POL letter at their US residence while they are halfway through their "snowbird" period in Thailand.  The Post Office usually only holds mail for 30 days.  

You're getting into more grey area kinds of scenarios but you're right being a snowbird is very common with people on social security.

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9 hours ago, Hanuman2547 said:

I'm sure that there are a number of US expats that "snowbird" by living in Thailand for 5-7 months a year and then spend the remainder in the US.  Their SS payments would be deposited into their US bank each and every month.  They would then use that as they see fit for their situation.  Not sure what would happen if they receive a POL letter at their US residence while they are halfway through their "snowbird" period in Thailand.  The Post Office usually only holds mail for 30 days.  

I was under the impression that Americans on SS and living/having an address in the USA are not required to do POL letters.

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45 minutes ago, Berkshire said:

I was under the impression that Americans on SS and living/having an address in the USA are not required to do POL letters.

That's true but you're required to change your address with social security when you move. 

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18 hours ago, Hanuman2547 said:

I'm sure that there are a number of US expats that "snowbird" by living in Thailand for 5-7 months a year and then spend the remainder in the US.  Their SS payments would be deposited into their US bank each and every month.  They would then use that as they see fit for their situation.  Not sure what would happen if they receive a POL letter at their US residence while they are halfway through their "snowbird" period in Thailand.  The Post Office usually only holds mail for 30 days.  

Think about your comment?  Maybe all the straight arrow people who never lie or break the rules and follow the bible to the letter just happens I'll never be one those ever!

 

If one is using a U.S. address residence the assumption is U.S. mail can be delivered so your remark " Post office only holds mail for 30 days " who in their right mind would use an address that their mail can't be delivered! Oh guess if one is living out in the country where the mail box is down the road from their house or one living maybe in Alaska?

 

Then a person who uses or has a U.S. resident address usually have family or friends check in on their residence allow their mail to be opened and if important email and forward to them the content.

 

Whether the person is coming to Thailand for several months or just taking a two week vacation the common thing is usually have someone come by and check on your place. If there is a need critical thinking minds will find a solution right?🤔

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In any case this topic isn't really about grey area situations. It's about Americans that are unambiguously living abroad who unambiguously fail to inform social security of that fact.

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It is clearly fraud. That someone would be prosecuted, fined or have their benefits reduced would depend on whether they were illegally benefiting from the fraud. 

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On 6/7/2021 at 10:29 AM, Pib said:

A person is in violation of U.S. laws/regulations regarding payment of social security pension benefits by not notifying the SSA you are living outside the U.S

....but only if you're living outside the US in one of the prohibited countries (e.g., Cuba), or you're receiving SSI benefits (not allowed out of the country for more than 30 days), or you're not a US citizen, thus having further restrictions on where in the world you can receive your SS benefits. Otherwise, as a US citizen, entitled to SS retirement benefits, you're completely kosher to receive your benefits without telling Uncle Sam you're on extended vacation abroad, like, forever.

 

A few years back, there was a form you were supposed to mail the SSA if you were out of the country for, I believe, 30 days or more. I guess SSA became inundated with mail from cruise folks, RVers going to Canada, etc. -- so this form is no longer available or required. Instead, the current guidance is thus:

 

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Instructions for a Beneficiary Leaving the U.S.

If you are a beneficiary planning to leave the U.S. to live abroad, you should report your change of address before you leave.  You should report the change in your home address even if your payments are being sent to a bank.

You may report your new address by getting in touch with the SSA Field Office nearest you.

Note the draconian instruction "you should." Plus, further guidance found online points out that the best way to keep the SSA apprised of your latest address is to update your profile on your online SS MY account.

 

And speaking of that account...... here's what the address update block looks like:

133608083_Screenshot(198).jpg.f51a5c490f88f507d65d6d6daa6d3730.jpg

 

Note the block "This mailing address is also my residence." When I moved full time to Thailand, I changed my profile to reflect my mail forwarding address in Texas. This was completely accepted, even tho' mail forwarding addresses can be easily discerned as such. But apparently the SSA just wanted a mailing address. And should this also be my physical address, I would have checked the block. Which I didn't. Thus, no misrepresentation (fraud). And no follow up by the SSA --apparently they don't care about where my physical address is.

 

Anyway, for those of us who filed for SS benefits while living in the States, and also got an online account -- don't see any reason why you'd need to add paperwork to your life by telling the SSA you now live in Thailand.

 

 

 

 

 

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11 minutes ago, JimGant said:

....but only if you're living outside the US in one of the prohibited countries (e.g., Cuba), or you're receiving SSI benefits (not allowed out of the country for more than 30 days), or you're not a US citizen, thus having further restrictions on where in the world you can receive your SS benefits. Otherwise, as a US citizen, entitled to SS retirement benefits, you're completely kosher to receive your benefits without telling Uncle Sam you're on extended vacation abroad, like, forever.

 

A few years back, there was a form you were supposed to mail the SSA if you were out of the country for, I believe, 30 days or more. I guess SSA became inundated with mail from cruise folks, RVers going to Canada, etc. -- so this form is no longer available or required. Instead, the current guidance is thus:

 

Note the draconian instruction "you should." Plus, further guidance found online points out that the best way to keep the SSA apprised of your latest address is to update your profile on your online SS MY account.

 

And speaking of that account...... here's what the address update block looks like:

133608083_Screenshot(198).jpg.f51a5c490f88f507d65d6d6daa6d3730.jpg

 

Note the block "This mailing address is also my residence." When I moved full time to Thailand, I changed my profile to reflect my mail forwarding address in Texas. This was completely accepted, even tho' mail forwarding addresses can be easily discerned as such. But apparently the SSA just wanted a mailing address. And should this also be my physical address, I would have checked the block. Which I didn't. Thus, no misrepresentation (fraud). And no follow up by the SSA --apparently they don't care about where my physical address is.

 

Anyway, for those of us who filed for SS benefits while living in the States, and also got an online account -- don't see any reason why you'd need to add paperwork to your life by telling the SSA you now live in Thailand.

 

When I go into my SSA account My Profile area it does "not" offer the ability to change your address online....looks completely different from your snapshot above where a "Mailing Address" can be entered. 

 

Instead it just reflects my Thailand address with a link below the address that says "Need to update your address or phone. contact us."  Ditto on the wife's SSA acct. And when clicking that link it brings up another page that gives a SSA 1800 phone number to call.   Expect once your address changes to a foreign address the capability to change your address online goes away among some other options going away like being able to change Direct Deposit info online.  Must then deal with Manila SSA office or the central SSA 1800 customer service.

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16 minutes ago, Pib said:

Expect once your address changes to a foreign address the capability to change your address online goes away

Sounds like it. Thus, if you want to avoid "are you alive" queries, and ability to change direct deposit, best get your online account and SS startup while in the States, even if that's only with one foot there and one foot here...

Edited by JimGant
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You can't and PIB has the best reply on this. I recently tried to change my address to a re-mail service in the USA and Social Security told me can not do if I still live in Thailand.

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19 hours ago, pmarlin said:

I recently tried to change my address to a re-mail service in the USA and Social Security told me can not do if I still live in Thailand.

If your online SS My account is overseas based, then, as Pib pointed out, you don't even have the option to change any address online. So, if you move back to the States, you'll have to deal in person with the SSA to establish that you're now back in the States -- and have a valid US address -- proof of which can be with a US drivers license:

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Depending on the state you live in, you will have the option of verifying your identity using your driver’s license or state-issued ID.

(from instructions on how to set up an online SS My account)

 

But what constitutes a valid US address? I would think you could use a re-mail address to set up a US based online My account (you certainly can later change a physical address to a re-mail address, as I did). What about all those retired folks living in their RVs, without any fixed address?

 

Anyway, getting off track. But the point is (as best I can discern): You're not legally required to notify the SSA if you're collecting SS retirement and have moved to a country not on their restricted list. And you then have the added flexibility of using the US based online SS My account for address change and direct deposit change -- and no "are you alive" letters to get lost in the Thai postal system. Ethically? When I croak, the wife has to notify the Air Force to stop my retirement payment, and to begin her survivor benefit payment -- and the Air Force, then, is required to notify the SSA. So, the requirement for an "are you alive " letter seems redundant.

(But it does beg the question: If I were single, how would the Air Force know to stop my retirement check? Hmmmm.)

 

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I was currently using an overseas address and tried to make the change by phone and mail to manila and Baltimore and was told flat out I cant use a US address while living overseas. 

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3 hours ago, pmarlin said:

and was told flat out I cant use a US address while living overseas. 

Have a feeling they meant you can't "change to" a US address while still living in Thailand, which makes complete sense. But to say you can't "use" a completely valid US address, which remains a valid mailing address while living in Thailand, and which you never changed upon moving to Thailand -- would be an interesting discussion between lawyers. Of course, that's the whole point of this topic --

-- and which I still maintain would not get you in trouble, since you're legally entitled to your SS retirement payment, same as if you were in the States, as long as that payment is retirement, not SSI, and if you're not living in a restricted country.

 

But, hey, this is a moot point for those who filed here with Manila, or who did advise the SSA of their new overseas address. As PMarlin found out -- there's no going back for that lost US address, as long as you're still living in Thailand. Just say alive so you can still advise the SSA that you remain entitled. For those planning to move to Thailand, and who are drawing SS retirement -- this subject of address change warrants a ponder or two. And, if there is some illegality involved, but obviously not clearly stated -- what's the worst that can happen? Not much, if anything -- as you're just collecting what you're entitled to.

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19 hours ago, JimGant said:

And, if there is some illegality involved, but obviously not clearly stated -- what's the worst that can happen? Not much, if anything -- as you're just collecting what you're entitled to.

 

Very dangerous to assume that your legitimate entitlement to SS benefits mean that you can disregard requirements with impunity.  Certainly, the SSA does not believe that.

 

If you knowingly make a false or misleading statement or knowingly fail to report important changes, we may impose a sanction against your payments.  The first sanction period is a withholding of payments for 6 months.  Subsequent sanction periods are for 12 months and then 24 months.

 

https://www.ssa.gov/ssi/text-report-ussi.htm

 

 
Edited by cmarshall
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22 minutes ago, cmarshall said:

 

Very dangerous to assume that your legitimate entitlement to SS benefits mean that you can disregard requirements with impunity.  Certainly, the SSA does not believe that.

 

If you knowingly make a false or misleading statement or knowingly fail to report important changes, we may impose a sanction against your payments.  The first sanction period is a withholding of payments for 6 months.  Subsequent sanction periods are for 12 months and then 24 months.

 

https://www.ssa.gov/ssi/text-report-ussi.htm

 

 

Thank you for that. Of course, it's not as if it's likely that you will caught and punished. But it could happen. Also, the very old report that I recalled reading about here of just such a case, sure it's possible that it was the result of a hallucination, but I doubt it. 

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40 minutes ago, Jingthing said:

Thank you for that. Of course, it's not as if it's likely that you will caught and punished. But it could happen. Also, the very old report that I recalled reading about here of just such a case, sure it's possible that it was the result of a hallucination, but I doubt it. 

Do you have a link to that thread that you "recalled reading", or did you just create this thread to virtue signal? Do you follow every letter of the law?

 

The only thing I've read here involves a UK citizen, a much more convoluted set of circumstances than a normal US citizen coming to Thailand on an extended holiday.

 

Upon death, the Thai government notifies the US Embassy, who in turn notify the federal government. The US does not change SS earnings, increases, etc, based upon living abroad as some other countries do. So you can call it fraud or you can call it buerocratic red tape.

 

Of course if the US changes the benefits based upon residence country, then it would definitely be fraud.

 

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Posted (edited)
8 minutes ago, frantick said:

Do you have a link to that thread that you "recalled reading", or did you just create this thread to virtue signal? Do you follow every letter of the law?

 

The only thing I've read here involves a UK citizen, a much more convoluted set of circumstances than a normal US citizen coming to Thailand on an extended holiday.

 

Upon death, the Thai government notifies the US Embassy, who in turn notify the federal government. The US does not change SS earnings, increases, etc, based upon living abroad as some other countries do. So you can call it fraud or you can call it buerocratic red tape.

 

Of course if the US changes the benefits based upon residence country, then it would definitely be fraud.

 

I already said that I don’t have a link. It would be archived and very difficult to search for.

 

Accusing me of virtue signaling is just lazy and silly. It's a canned American right wing talking point that is basically meaningless. When you can't make an argument based on logic, go ad hominem.

Edited by Jingthing
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1 hour ago, Jingthing said:

Thank you for that. Of course, it's not as if it's likely that you will caught and punished. But it could happen.

 

A basic risk/reward analysis tells me that running the unknown risk that my SS could be stopped for six months or more for the "benefit" of not having to fill out the 7162 form does not begin to be worth taking.

Edited by cmarshall
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4 minutes ago, cmarshall said:

 

A basic risk/reward analysis tells me that running the unknown risk that my SS could be stopped for six months or more for the "benefit" of not having to fill out the 7162 form does not begin to be worth taking.

You make a good point but I do know that people in some countries with no mail service rationalize it because of that.

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1 hour ago, cmarshall said:

If you knowingly make a false or misleading statement or knowingly fail to report important changes, we may impose a sanction against your payments.  The first sanction period is a withholding of payments for 6 months.  Subsequent sanction periods are for 12 months and then 24 months.

https://www.ssa.gov/ssi/text-report-ussi.htm

 

Come on, guys -- let's get on the same page....

Go to the link posted by cmarshal, above. Note the title:

Quote

Understanding Supplemental Security Income Reporting Responsibilities -- 2021 Edition

SSI is totally different from the SS retirement benefits we earned from our forty quarters of covered wages. And, yes, SSI is not payable when you leave the country for over 30 days. Thus, mandatory reporting of being out of the country is required, and cheating can result in penalties.

 

But we're not talking SSI here. We're talking retirement payments, which ARE allowed if you move to a country not on the restricted list. And you won't find anything in government instructions saying you "must" report your new address (unless you relocate to North Korea or Cuba). Again, here's the official word:

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Instructions for a Beneficiary Leaving the U.S.

If you are a beneficiary planning to leave the U.S. to live abroad, you should report your change of address before you leave.  You should report the change in your home address even if your payments are being sent to a bank.

https://www.ssa.gov/foreign/leaving_us.htm

Nothing about you must.

 

Anyway, if you feel the law says you must notify the SSA when you relocate, please feel free to write or call them each time you visit grandma in the States, and, of course, once you return to Thailand.

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46 minutes ago, Jingthing said:

I already said that I don’t have a link. It would be archived and very difficult to search for.

 

Accusing me of virtue signaling is just lazy and silly. It's a canned American right wing talking point that is basically meaningless. When you can't make an argument based on logic, go ad hominem.

So if you already know, and you're already compliant, why did you bring it up in the first place?

 

51 minutes ago, Jingthing said:

I already said that I don’t have a link. It would be archived and very difficult to search for.

 

Accusing me of virtue signaling is just lazy and silly. It's a canned American right wing talking point that is basically meaningless. When you can't make an argument based on logic, go ad hominem.

So based upon something you thought you read one time; that's your argument.

 

I hope this thread has satiated your "academic interest". Let me know when the book comes out.

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1 minute ago, frantick said:

So based upon something you thought you read one time; that's your argument.

It was probably an SSI cheat. There are plenty of them, and a real problem for the SSA. Do a Google and see how false reporting of SSI cheats is investigated.

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34 minutes ago, cmarshall said:

unknown risk that my SS could be stopped for six months or more for the "benefit" of not having to fill out the 7162 form

Stopped for "six months or more" comes from the link on what happens to SSI cheats (not legitimate SS retirees living in the world, other than Cuba or North Korea).

But we seem to be in a circle jerk, referencing links, like SSI, that don't apply to this conversation.

 

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10 minutes ago, JimGant said:

It was probably an SSI cheat. There are plenty of them, and a real problem for the SSA. Do a Google and see how false reporting of SSI cheats is investigated.

Probably like one I know near Bangkok; collecting SSI just because he's fat.

 

Sorry @jingthing, but a handle like that just rubs me the wrong way. True?Remember the song "Signs".  Just tired of everyone telling me what I "should" do.

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12 minutes ago, JimGant said:

Stopped for "six months or more" comes from the link on what happens to SSI cheats (not legitimate SS retirees living in the world, other than Cuba or North Korea).

But we seem to be in a circle jerk, referencing links, like SSI, that don't apply to this conversation.

 

 

I think the only way you'd get your regular SS payments cut off would be if they found out you were a Trump supporter...

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22 minutes ago, JimGant said:

It was probably an SSI cheat. There are plenty of them, and a real problem for the SSA. Do a Google and see how false reporting of SSI cheats is investigated.

I recall it was social security  not SSI.

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6 minutes ago, frantick said:

Probably like one I know near Bangkok; collecting SSI just because he's fat.

 

Sorry @jingthing, but a handle like that just rubs me the wrong way. True?Remember the song "Signs".  Just tired of everyone telling me what I "should" do.

You're clearly only here to attack me personally. GOODBYE.

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Posted (edited)
3 minutes ago, Yellowtail said:

 

I think the only way you'd get your regular SS payments cut off would be if they found out you were a Trump supporter...

Trying to be funny but failing at it.

Edited by Jingthing
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