Our Mission: To provide assistance to U.S. Military Retirees, service members in Thailand about
to retire, and eligible family members of the above. This includes maintaining this website with useful links to information and offices that can assist you in areas beyond our charter. This RAO is an official U.S. Air Force activity staffed by a small group of retired U.S. military volunteers. We welcome your emails and can assist you and eligible family members on a walk-in basis. We also maintain an RAO Newsletter (below) with useful information updates as they occur.
How to use this website: Our goal for this website is to provide information for the most commonly asked retiree questions. We are not the subject matter experts for most areas, therefore we provide you links to the offices and agencies who are. We are happy to entertain any questions you have, but ask that you first take the time to familiarize yourself with this website, read each section, as it contains lots of useful information. Please note the final section at the bottom of this page whch lists activities we are prohibited from doing.
7 Sathorn Tai
|Turn LEFT after
entering front gate. We are in Bldg. "D", Room D-114, just to the right of the dental office
Newsletter (click on individual links below to access information)
Our newsletter does not represent nor reflect the views of the RAO, JUSMAGTHAI, or the U.S. Government. Its purpose is to provide you links to potentially useful retiree information as it becomes available.
- JUSMAGTHAI is no longer issueing JUSMAGTHAI gate pass badges to retirees. You may access the gate showing U.S. government ID such a passport, passport copy, military retired ID card, perhaps a Thai ID, etc. This RAO office has no say in what identifcation allows one to access this Thai military compound.
- The volunteer who previously as a courtesy was doing non-complicated forms for the military retiree community has deceased. RAO is seeking someone willing to perform this service at their leisure. This service does not require a presence in the RAO office. Please contact Tom or George at the RAO office if you would like to provide this very helpful and worthy volunteer service.
- VA Makes Wait Times for Patients Transparent for Veterans! The VA tool allows Veterans to access the average times patients are waiting to be seen in their local area; how Veterans describe their experiences scheduling primary- and specialty-care appointments at specific VA facilities; timeliness of appointments for care needed right away; and the quality of health care delivered at VA medical centers compared with local private-sector hospitals. The Access and Quality Tool is the most transparent and easy to understand wait time and quality data website in the health-care industry. Access the tool here. Watch this video to learn how the tool can be used.
- We have removed TRICARE information from this page, because the JUSMAGTHAI TRICARE Office are the experts and up-to-date on all the TRICARE info. The link to their page is in the above sentence.
- Preparing for a VA Disability Benefits Exam? "Tips for getting the most from your Veterans Administration requested disability benefits exam," authored by a medical doctor who conducts these exams. Highly recommended read!!!!!
- U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) advice on Flu Shots and NIH info on heading off dangerous drug interactions
- U.S. Embassy Bangkok states all future payments at U.S. Embassy Outreach Events must be made in the form of a BANK DRAFT
- VA's rule establishes presumption of service connection for diseases associated with exposure to contaminants in water supply at Camp Lejeune, click here.
- Federal Drug Administration "Four Medication Safety Tips for Older Adults"
- VA’s Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry - VA's Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry allows eligible Veterans and Servicemembers to document their exposures and report health concerns through an online questionnaire.
Eligible Veterans and Servicemembers include those who served in: Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation New Dawn; Djibouti, Africa on or after September 11, 2001; Operations Desert Shield or Desert Storm; Southwest Asia theater of operations on or after August 2, 1990
- VA maintains a National Center for PTSD which contains lots of useful information for PTSD suffererers and loved ones and associates of PTSD sufferers, and a quarterly newsletter to which one can subscribe.
* Official Military Retiree Websites *
Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard
* Official Retiree Newsletters *
Army Echoes, Air Force Afterburner, Navy Shiftcolors, Marine Semper Fidelis, Coast Guard The Retiree Newsletter
DEERS & DoD
Military ID Cards
We don't issue ID cards or handle DEERS issues, below is the DEERs contact information
• JUSMAGTHAI - Joint Support Section •
• DEERS •
Location: Bldg. "C", Room
Defense Manpower Data Center Support Office (DSO)
Tues-Wed-Thurs, 0800-1100 Hours
(Appointments Not Accepted)
Telephone: 02-287-1036 Ext. 180 /
(Note: These Ext. #s are Not
1. Department of Defense
ID Card Issuance Process. The DoD ID card issuance process consists of several steps to ensure the correct ID card is issued and the appropriate benefits and privileges are assigned. An important step is the verification of a customer's identity by reviewing the two required forms of identification and their information in the Defense Enrollment and Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS). When you report to a DoD ID Card issuing facility, the card issuer, called a Verifying Official (VO), will ask the customer to present an existing DoD ID card, if available, as well as other identity documentation as an added layer of security. In verifying the authenticity of required documents before issuing a DoD ID card, the VO has an important responsibility to prevent fraud and protect the security of our nation.2. Defense
Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System
(DEERS). DEERS Record
Updates and DoD Military ID Cards. Although JUSMAGTHAI is an authorized DEERS/RAPIDS site, resources are limited to internet connectivity and the main stateside DEERS/RAPIDS Server, and to availability of ID card stock on hand. JUSMAG is not authorized to “set aside” any ID cards for personnel who may be traveling here, and are not authorized to access the system outside the hours established with DEERS/RAPIDS.
Location. The DEERS / DoD Military ID Card Station is located in
room C-105. Turn right after entering the main gate, walk
under the building overhang, turn left at the blue color U.S. mailbox, then keep straight ahead until end (back of compound), go left and room C-105 will be on your right hand side.
b. DEERS Availability. Since the
DEERS system sometimes unexpectedly *goes down* it's best to phone ahead
to 02-287-1036 Ext. 180 (or
181) before you travel to JUSMAG.
Likewise, due to system irregularities it's best to give yourself two days in Bangkok (should the system be down that day). As well, sometimes the system takes time to connect with DEERS/RAPIDS so please try to give yourself 30-60 minutes for processing. Moreover, if the DEERS system at JUSMAG is known or estimated to be unavailable for more than a couple of days, contact the Defense Manpower Data Center Support Office (DSO) (DEERS) in California (info above) with your questions concerning DEERS record updates, such as registering new dependents in DEERS. Also see the TRICARE Overseas section (paragraph 16c) on this webpage concerning TRICARE claims filing for a new dependent not yet registered in DEERS. Lastly, please be advised that the primary duties of the Joint Support
staff often take them away from their desks, therefore, phone calls to
them sometimes go unanswered.
c. DoD Military ID Card
Basics. Retiree DoD ID cards (blue color DD-2) issued before December 1, 2012 do not expire. However, Retiree ID cards issued after November 30, 2012 do have an expiration date on the front of the card (please see paragraph 5 below). Dependent DoD ID cards may be renewed up to 30
days prior to the card's expiration (sponsor normally must accompany
their spouse when renewing the dependent spouse's tan color
DD-1173). Note: If you recently
enrolled in Medicare Part B, ensure Part B is reflected in your DEERS
record before you renew your ID card (automatic
weapons can fail--so too can Medicares action to notify the Defense Manpower Data Center Support Office (DSO) (DEERS) of the
beneficiarys Part B enrollment). Bring your current DoD
ID card and two additional photo IDs, and any documentation (original or certified copy, not a photocopy) pertinent to
your visit. Read: Documents
Required for Issuance of DoD ID Cards (and read the paragraphs below). All
foreign language documents require certified English translation (no
exceptions). Note: Photos are taken
digitally--there's no need to bring a photo.
d. Sponsors Must Accompany Their Dependents. Dependents requesting a service from the JUSMAGTHAI DEERS section, such as renewing a DoD ID card, TRICARE eligibility inquiries, etc., must be accompanied by their [still living] military sponsor. Dependents requesting a service without their military sponsor present will be advised to return with their military sponsor. Clearly, this applies only to dependents with sponsors that are still living. Sponsors wishing to update/renew/first issue a Dependent ID Card are required to be with their Dependent at the time of issue. The sponsor will need to bring one additional non-expired government-issued photo ID in addition to their DoD military ID.
e. TRICARE Eligibility Inquiries. *** MUST BE MADE IN-PERSON *** Requests for TRICARE eligibility verification via email, phone, fax, or mail to the JUSMAGTHAI DEERS section, cannot be honored. This policy is part of DoD's overall fraud prevention efforts. To verify your TRICARE eligibility you may also do so online via milConnect, TRICARE
Overseas, or by Phone, Fax or Mail to the Defense Manpower Data Center Support Office (DSO) (DEERS) in California. (Please also see paragraph 5b below).
Two Most Frequently Asked DEERS Questions Are:
"What do I need to bring to renew my DoD ID
card?" For U.S. Uniformed
Services ID card renewals, Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
directives require two pieces of government-issued identification: Documents
Required for Issuance of DoD ID Cards. Firstly, to renew a DoD ID card you must bring your current DoD ID card. In addition to your DoD ID card, bring two non-expired forms of government-issued photo ID. Passport and drivers license are fine, just know that JUSMAGTHAI DEERS personnel cannot use the CAC card, Retiree ID card, or Dependent ID card as one of the two forms of ID that need to be scanned into DEERS/RAPIDS--the two forms of ID must have a picture and must not be expired. These rules apply to U.S. citizens
and foreign nationals. If you no longer have your current DoD ID
card you must also file/obtain a police report before a
replacement DoD ID card can be issued--foreign language police reports
require certified English translation (no exceptions).
"I just got married so what do we need to bring to get my spouse a
DoD ID card?" First time dependents will need the original marriage certificate, and if the marriage certificate is not in English, a certified English translation copy with original stamps from the company that did the translation--photocopies of the translation will not suffice; it must have the original certifier's stamp. Your (the sponsor's) current DoD ID card and one additional sponsor non-expired government-issued photo ID. Your new spouse must also bring two pieces of
non-expired government-issued photo ID (Thai, U.S., or other nation). In addition, original (or certified copy) Final Divorce
Decree(s) (sponsor and/or spouse; as applicable). Foreign language
documents require certified English translation (no
Important Note: Marriage certificates,
divorce decrees, and birth certificates must be certified originals,
court-certified copies, or certified photocopies that reflect the file
number. Verifying officials may request additional documents if
validity of documents provided is in question. (AFI
36-3026_IP, Volume 1; Ch. 2, para. 2.4.1, p. 48).
Age 65 Renewal of Retiree DoD ID Card (or earlier
if End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD), or
SSA-disabled). This subject historically
has been vague and a bit confusing, and the RAO at different times has
been advised differently by official sources.
Bottom line: Retiree ID cards
(blue color DD-2) issued before December 1, 2012 do not expire, they are
*INDEF* (Indefinite), however, the information
listed on the back of the DD-2 concerning TRICARE eligibility, contains
an expiration date--which normally is the last day of the month prior to
the retiree's (or dependent's) 65th birthday. UPDATE: Retiree ID cards issued after November 30, 2012 do have an expiration date on the front of the card and require replacement. For more information please read the Air Force News Story (1/31/2013).
Age 65 is when most military retirees (and their
dependents) first become eligible for premium-free Medicare Part A, and
as a result, must enroll in Medicare Part B if they wish to remain TRICARE
eligible (TRICARE For Life (TFL)). Therefore, when a retiree
enrolls in Medicare Part B, they may or may not be required to renew their DoD ID card--if the card was issued before December 1, 2012 it isn't required to be
renewed. However, if the retiree DoD ID card was issued after November 30, 2012 a replacement card will be needed. Concerning retiree DoD ID cards issued before December 1, 2012 it may be in your best interest to renew your
retiree DD-2 after you enroll in Medicare Part B and after
Part B is reflected in your DEERS record. For
instance, some Military Treatment Facilities have reportedly confiscated
retiree ID cards that have not been renewed to show TFL
eligibility--they do this as a means to *force* you to renew your
b. When the member enrolls in Medicare Part B, Medicare
[normally] notifies DSO (DEERS) that Part B has been obtained. Therefore, a retiree DoD ID card issued before December 1, 2012 does not have to be renewed simply because of
this date, but may be renewed if the member
desires. Other Consideration:
Concerning the ongoing removal of social security numbers from
DoD ID cards (through attrition), you may wish to use your enrollment in
Medicare Part B as a valid reason to renew your retiree
DD-2. Lastly, to verify that DSO (DEERS) has received your
Medicare Part B enrollment, you can check milConnect, TRICARE
Overseas, or by Phone, Fax or Mail to DSO (DEERS) in California (a few weeks
after the first day of your birth month), or visit the nearest DoD ID card
issuing facility (JUSMAGTHAI is the only facility in Thailand).
*** Keep Your DEERS Records Up To Date! *** Life events
such as moving, marriage, divorce, death, or simply having a child go
off to college are milestones in family lives that require DEERS
updates. Keeping your DEERS records current means uninterrupted
receipt of your retirement pay, access to the TRICARE health system, and
it also ensures that important TRICARE-related health care documents are
delivered to the sponsor and their family members at the correct address and on time. Mistakes and outdated information in DEERS has
caused pay problems, and caused TRICARE claims delay and denial. For simple address changes, you can update
your DEERS address via several methods: In-person at
JUSMAGTHAI; Online at DEERS Address
Update or milConnect; or
by Phone, Fax or Mail to DSO (DEERS) in California.
*** Important Note *** Updating your DEERS record does
not update your information with DFAS, and updating your information with DFAS does
not update your DEERS record--you must separately update your DEERS and DFAS records. Retirees can also change bank and mailing addresses in myPay.
Discharged Veterans Rated 100-Percent Disabled by the DVA
(Ch. 24, para. 24.2, p. 181). Honorably discharged veterans who
are not entitled to retired pay, and rated 100-percent disabled
from a Uniformed Service-connected injury or disease are entitled to a
DD Form 2765 with eligibility to commissary, exchange and MWR privileges ONLY. See the above reference, and see Sample
Letter (Attachment 21, p. 313).
• TRICARE Office
TRICARE. The JUSMAGTHAI TRICARE office is not
chartered or funded to assist the retiree community, and does so
strictly as a courtesy, duties permitting, and only when
TRICARE Overseas (International SOS, Singapore) is unable to answer your query. If
International SOS is unable to directly answer your pertinent TRICARE
questions they will refer you to the office that can.
8. Notary Stamp. The
JUSMAGTHAI Adjutant currently provides a no-fee Notary Stamp service
(duties permitting); just be advised that, as before, the notary stamp
(it's a *stamp*, not a seal) is derived from U.S. Army authority and may
or may not be accepted outside of the Department of Defense, especially
if those documents are used in legal proceedings--the burden of
determining acceptance rests solely with the person requesting
notarization. Further, if your document requires the presence
of witnesses in addition to notarization, you must supply those
witnesses. Also, do not sign any documents until
instructed to do so by the Adjutant. Lastly, the Adjutant
doesn't notarize income
affidavits--you must visit the U.S. Embassy or U.S.
Consulate General after completing notarized income affidavit (sign in front of an embassy official). If
you desire notarization for other than an income affidavit, please first visit the JUSMAG Joint
Support section (aka *Admin*)--the same helpful folks that issue DoD ID
cards--and tell them the purpose of your visit. They will direct
you to the correct office. Remember, JUSMAG provides this service
strictly as a courtesy.
Note: U.S. Citizen Services (ACS), U.S.
Embassy, Bangkok & U.S. Consulate, Chiang Mai, provide a fee-based
Notary Service ($50 per embossed seal). U.S. Embassy: Notary
• Mailroom &
|• Department of Defense (DoD) Policy •
Postal Manual (Appendix 1, AP1.3.14. Service for Retired
Military Personnel (p. 342))
*** Important Notice ***
• Non-retiree veterans (not retired for longevity or medically retired) are not authorized APO/FPO privileges •
Mailroom (Policy Memo). The
JUSMAGTHAI Mailroom is open to U.S. Military Retirees, Gray-Area
Retirees at age 60, and eligible unremarried surviving spouses who have
a *Box-R* APO box at JUSMAG. If you don't have a Box-R at JUSMAG you may still use the APO (see paragraph 9 below). To sign up
for a *Box-R* mail box, U.S. military retirees must have and show
in-person a valid blue color *Retired* DoD ID card (DD-2) and complete a locator card. Eligible
unremarried surviving spouses of military retirees must have and show a
valid tan color DoD ID card (DD-1173). Military retiree APO privileges are limited to personal / private use ONLY, and DO NOT include any type of work, business, or other commercial-related use. APO privileges for
U.S. military retirees are strictly a privilege, not a
Minimal Services. The JUSMAGTHAI Mailroom does not sell U.S. (or Thai)
postage stamps (and neither does the RAO). U.S. postage stamps are available for purchase at the APO (*EOB* compound on Wireless Rd.). For registered
mail pick up, visit the APO before 1400 hours. Please see APO
information in paragraph 8 below.
• GI Bill •
9. The VA recognizes many Thai institutions of higher learning for the GI Bill, meaning you can use your Montgomery or Post 9-11 GI Bill at these institutions. Of note is that most often only certain departments within institutions accept the GI Bill. To check which institutions - anywhere in the world - and the departments within that institution which accept the GI Bill, go the the GI Bill WEAMS website and click on the button "to search by country, click here." Remember that to use the GI Bill, you must have a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) from VA. If you do not have one, you can apply at the Veterans Online Application site.
No Staff Judge Advocate
10. Staff Judge Advocate (SJA).
JUSMAG does not have an SJA on staff, and hence, is unable to help prepare a Power
of Attorney (paragraph 5, next section), Living
Will, or a Last
Will & Testament.
You may consult an attorney or visit one of several online
*free legal forms* websites and have your document(s) notarized (seal)
at the U.S. Embassy / U.S. Consulate General, or roll the dice with a
JUSMAG Army-derived Notary Stamp. U.S. Embassy: Attorney
List | U.S. Consulate: Attorney List.
• No Commissary, No BX / PX / NEX, No MWR, No Military Lodging •
11. The nearest facilities are in Singapore
• No Space-A Flights •
14. Space-A. The nearest Space-A is in Singapore although Clark Air Base in the Phillippines is beginning to get more SPACE-A. Visit our Space-A section below for more information on the SIngapore hub, for the Clark Space-A schedule visit here.
• More Services •
15. More Services & Hours of
Entitlements at a Glance
• Benefits Discussion •
1. RAO staff invites U.S. military retirees to visit the RAO for an initial (or refresher) benefits and privileges discussion. If you've recently retired, newly arrived to Thailand, or just simply have never visited the RAO for a benefits discussion, a visit to the RAO may yield information useful to you, and to your loved ones. Note: Discussing Survivor Benefits requires discussing any/all current and previous marriages, therefore, you may wish to plan your visit accordingly (e.g., accompanied or unaccompanied).
Service Record Request
Military Service Record Request. Military
personnel records can be used for proving military service, or as a
valuable tool in genealogical research. Most veterans and their
Next-of-Kin can obtain free copies of their DD
Form 214 (Report of Separation), and other military and medical
Medical and Health Records.
U.S. Military Service Records
Military Service Records.
The National Archives only stores Military Service Records they cannot make changes or
corrections to these records or to your discharge
You will need to apply to the review
board for your respective service branch for corrections or
4. Power of
Attorney (POA). A Power of Attorney (Specific or General) allows
you to designate someone to take legal action on your behalf. For Example: If you're already experiencing
medical distress, establishing a *Specific POA* (or even Guardianship) now
before you're physically or mentally incapacitated can help ensure your
benefits continue uninterrupted should your medical condition(s)
worsen. Blank Power of Attorney forms are
available online from the U.S. Embassy here, or U.S. Consulate General here.
Or, you may use one supplied to you by your attorney, bank, or
company, or visit one of several online *free legal forms* websites and
have your document(s) notarized (seal) at the U.S. Embassy/Consulate, or
roll the dice with a JUSMAG Army-derived Notary Stamp (paragraph 12, previous
section). Remember, do not sign a POA until instructed to
do so by the Notary. U.S. Embassy: Notary
Services | U.S. Consulate
Services. (Note: JUSMAG does not have a Staff Judge Advocate on staff, and hence, is unable
to assist with preparing a Power of Attorney).
- Know the differerence between a Will and a Power of Attorney? Why one over the other? See here.
Pay. Be it retired pay from DFAS, SSA
retirement benefits, VA disability compensation, survivor benefits,
etc., if your pay stops, contact your bank (direct deposit) and/or
source agency immediately. Government (and
private) agencies want to be contacted by the beneficiary. You directly contacting the agency brings far swifter
resolution, often immediate.
Pay suspension can occur for
numerous reasons: 1) Retired Pay - Sponsors not updating
their DFAS record in decades; 2) Not returning on time (or at all) an
annual (or other) certification form (different benefits name it
differently); 3) Correspondence being returned as undeliverable (DFAS,
OPM, SSA, and VA), and; 4) SBP - Expired dependent DoD ID card
(an expired ID card also negatively effects a dependent's TRICARE
eligibility). Once your pay stops expect a minimum of three months for it to restart--we've seen it take
nine and ten months, respectively, for two beneficiaries.
Yes, sometimes beneficiaries do need
additional assistance if pay is suspended. For Example:
When DFAS has doubts about your existence, DFAS
sometimes will request an official letter attesting to your identity and
status. We have that letter in the RAO--in
addition to your existing DoD ID card you'll have to show us two (2) current (non-expired) pieces of U.S. and/or Thai
Government-issued Photo Identification. Remember,
updating your DEERS record does not update your pay record at DFAS, and updating your
DFAS record does not update your record in DEERS--you must separately update your DEERS and DFAS records.
Defense Finance & Accounting
& Accounting Service (DFAS) (Retirement &
Annuitant). Updating your personal data in
DEERS does not update your pay record at DFAS, and updating your
DFAS record does not update your record in DEERS--you must
update your DFAS and DEERS records separately. It's solely
your responsibility to keep your personal data up-to-date. Retirees can also change bank and mailing addresses by using myPay.
DFAS' online pay account management system that provides
paycheck and tax information for military members, retirees, annuitants,
and numerous federal civilian employees. It is
the most convenient way to manage your retirement account.
In addition to viewing and printing documents (RAS, CRSC
Statement, 1099R), retirees can also:
of Pay (AOP) Beneficiary and Survivor
Benefit Plan (SBP) are discussed under *Survivor
milConnect is a website provided by the
Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC) (DMDC manages DEERS) that
allows sponsors, spouses, and their children (18 years and older) to
access information regarding their personal information, health care
eligibility, personnel records, and other information from a centralized
Federal Long Term Care
Long Term Care Insurance Program. The Federal Long Term
Care Insurance Program provides long term care insurance to help pay for
costs of care when enrollees need help with activities they perform
every day, or you have a severe cognitive impairment, such as
Alzheimer's disease. Federal and Postal employees
and annuitants, active and retired members of the uniformed services,
and qualified relatives can apply for this insurance.
Certain medical conditions, or combinations of conditions, will
prevent some people from being approved for coverage.
You must apply to find out if you are eligible to enroll. Also Visit: LongTermCare.gov.
Ophthalmic Support & Training Activity
(NOSTRA). If you are retired military and
eligible for other medical services, you are authorized to receive a
limited quantity of standard issue spectacles per year.
How to Order: Retiree.
Security Administration - Manila
Tel: +63-2-301-2000 Ext. 9
1201 Roxas Blvd.
Manila, Philippines 1000
Security Administration - U.S. Embassy, Manila.
SSA Manila prefers that benefits applicants contact them
directly (instead of contacting the U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate).
Telephone Interviews. SSA prefers
to conduct telephone interviews with applicants, therefore, SSA will
phone you from their Manila office when you provide your telephone
number. Note: If
you ever receive an unsolicited phone call or email
purporting to be from a government agency or commercial business
(i.e., you didn't initiate contact with them), beware of a possible
Certified Documents. SSA requires
that all supporting documents be certified (no cost at ACS when
documents are used to apply for U.S. Federal benefits), and must
be sent by ACS to SSA--in order to maintain document integrity.
11. Updating Your Address
with SSA. If you're receiving SSA benefits and are
residing outside of the U.S. for more than 6 months, you should update
your address with SSA. Your benefits will be
suspended if your address is not updated. If you
are updating your U.S. address to an address in Thailand, you will need
to fill out Form SSA-21 and submit it to a U.S. Embassy or
Consulate. If you are updating an address within
Thailand, contact SSA Manila directly.
Form SSA-7162 in the mail? What is it
for? What should I do with Form
SSA-7162? The Social Security Administration
periodically sends Form SSA-7162 to a beneficiary living outside the
United States to determine if the beneficiary is still eligible to
receive benefits. When you receive this form, you
should answer the questionnaire and return it to the office that sent it
as soon as possible. The form will include
instructions and provide the address where you need to return the
form. Generally, a self-addressed envelope is
enclosed, too. All you need to do is affix
postage and mail it. If you do not return this
form in a timely manner, your payments will stop.
* In addition to responding to the questionnaire, you should
notify Social Security promptly about changes that could affect your
payments. If you fail to report something or
deliberately make a false statement, you could be penalized by a fine or
imprisonment. You also may lose some of your
payments if you do not report changes promptly.
Its important that you report any change of address to the
Social Security Administration to ensure you get this questionnaire and
other important notices from SSA. FBU can help
you report a change of address to SSA.
If your benefits are suspended because SSA did not
receive your completed Form SSA-7162, FBU can help you restore your
13. Social Security
Retirement Benefits. Taxed.
Taxes are deducted at source (Green Card holders please see the
IRS section on this page here).
A secure, comfortable retirement is every worker's
dream. And now because we're living longer and
healthier lives, we can expect to spend more time in retirement than our
parents and grandparents did. Achieving the dream of a
secure, comfortable retirement is much easier when you plan your
finances. Information You'll
Need When You Apply for Retirement Benefits or
Medicare. Also Visit: Military Service &
Apply for Benefits. You may apply online (or
contact SSA Manila). If you feel you need
additional assistance with the application process, you may visit
U.S. Citizen Services (ACS) at the U.S.
Embassy (Bangkok), or U.S.
Consulate General (Chiang Mai). ACS also
"certifies" at no cost, supporting personal documentation that may be
required by SSA (or VA) to adjudicate your claim.
Lastly, "Legalization" (known as "Authentication" in the
U.S.) of Thai documents is presently not
required. Also Visit: Your Payments While You Are
Outside The United States.
Family Members Qualify for Benefits? When
you start receiving Social Security retirement benefits, some members of your family may also qualify to receive benefits on
your record. If they qualify, your spouse or child may receive a monthly payment of up to one-half of your full retirement
benefit amount. These payments will not decrease
your retirement benefit. In fact, the value of
the benefits your family may receive, added to your own, may help you
decide if taking your benefits sooner may be more
Requirements apply--also be advised: "...children adopted
outside the United States will not be paid outside the United States,
even if the residency requirement is met."
(RAO Note: If in doubt, contact
SSA Manila directly).
14. Social Security Disability
Benefits For Wounded Warriors. You may
apply for disability benefits at any time while in military status or
after discharge. Many disabled veterans and wounded warriors may qualify for Social Security disability benefits, in addition to their Veterans Affairs benefits. For information go to www.socialsecurity.gov/disabilityfacts. Military service members can
receive expedited processing of disability claims from Social
Security. Benefits available through Social
Security are different than those from the Department of Veterans
Affairs and require a separate application. The
expedited process is used for military service members who become
disabled while on active military service on or after October 1, 2001,
regardless of where the disability occurs. In
order to receive SSA disability benefits, a claimant cannot engage in
substantial work activity for pay or profit, also known as substantial
gainful activity. Active duty status and receipt
of military pay does not, in itself, necessarily prevent payment of
disability benefits. Receipt of military payments
should not stop military personnel from applying for disability benefits
from Social Security. If a service member is
receiving treatment at a military medical facility and working in a
designated therapy program or on limited duty, SSA will evaluate the
work activity to determine eligibility for benefits. The actual work activity is the controlling factor and not the
amount of pay received or the persons military duty status.
15. VA - General
Info. Contact VA: VA
prefers internet-using veterans residing overseas to use IRIS (instead of
16. VA Education
Benefits. Various education benefits are
administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Veterans Affairs (VA) - *Disability*
*** Important Notes ***
No VA Medical
Facility or Military Treatment Facility in
2. 100% Payment up
front (out-of-pocket) is normally required for FMP medical
percentages have no bearing on determining eligibility for FMP
Manila Outpatient Clinic serves service-connected veterans residing or sojourning in the PI. Veterans Can Now Schedule Appointments Online with Smartphones (at some VA facilities, the website has the list)
* A Claimed Condition is Not a Disability Unless the VA Decides It Is *
1. VA encourages
individuals who are applying for disability compensation to work with an
or agent to assist them in completing a Fully
Developed Claim for submission through eBenefits/VDC. Being
accredited means organizations and individuals must have VA permission
to represent veterans before the Department in their claims for VA
benefits. The purpose of this requirement is to ensure that
veterans have qualified and competent representation. These
individuals receive specialized training in VA benefits law and
procedure. Also Visit: Directory of Veterans Service Organizations.
RAO Note: The best piece of advice RAO
staff can offer you concerning VA disability (especially being so far
from home) is for you to seriously consider nominating an *Accredited
Representative* (advocate) who is willing to work with and for you, stay
in the process, and press for your rights and your best interests.
Just be advised that while an accredited representative certainly can be
very helpful to you, they still aren't the end-all, save-all.
Ultimately, it's still your personal responsibility to educate
yourself and to manage your claim.
The VA-preferred method of contact for inquiries by internet-using
veterans residing overseas is via IRIS (instead of
telephoning). Using IRIS gives you 24/7 contact
ability as well as a date-time stamp on your inquiry or
submission. For inquiries, IRIS is more reliable than
Telephone, Fax, or standard Mail. General
1-800-827-1000. Veterans Can Now Schedule Appointments Online with Smartphones (at some VA facilities, VA website has the list)
eBenefits is your one-stop shop for online benefits-related tools and
information. This portal is designed for Wounded Warriors,
Veterans, Service Members, their families, and their caregivers.
You're invited to explore eBenefits and become a registered user.
eBenefits provides two main services:
1) A catalog of links to
other sites that provide information about military and veteran
2) A personalized workspace called My eBenefits that provides quick access to eBenefits tools. Using eBenefits
tools gives users the ability to perform numerous self-service
functions. You can Apply for Benefits, Download your DD-214, and
View your Benefits Status.
Compensation. Disability compensation is a monthly benefit
paid to a veteran as a result of injuries or diseases that were incurred
or aggravated by active military service. It's also paid to
certain veterans disabled from VA health care. Disability ratings range from 0 to 100 percent
(in increments of 10 percent). Compensation is paid for disability
ratings between 10 to 100 percent. Veterans with disability
ratings between 30 and 100 percent are also eligible for monthly
allowances for a spouse, and for each child. You may be eligible
for disability compensation if you have a service-related disability and you were discharged under other than dishonorable
conditions. Benefits are not subject to Federal
or state income tax. Veterans must first apply, and then the VA
must *award disability* before a veteran can receive these
RAO Note: While the burden of pursuing a VA disability
rating rests squarely on the veteran, when a veteran contacts
the RAO inquiring about seeking VA disability, that veteran deserves to
be given the necessary base-line tools and a vector. Keep in mind, there is no VA
office / representative in Thailand. Yes, there are those of us familiar with the VA disability process, but we are not trained VA staffers. Note: Dont forget to apply for
Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC) if you believe you meet the criteria (links
to CRSC info are on this page under *DoD*).
Opinions. RAO staff is sometimes wrongly asked for our *medical opinion*. Two real
examples: "Can I file a disability claim for my
eyes?" And, "Can I file a claim for Individual
Unemployability?" Our stock reply is, We
are not medical doctors. A VA service-connected disability award requires filing a claim,
obtaining one or more medical diagnoses from one or more licensed
physicians, and it requires a rating decision by the VA
awarding service-connection. Be proactive and do it correctly--file a claim, visit a licensed doctor(s), and submit the evidence
needed to support your claim.
Agent Orange, Gulf War Illnesses, Other Exposures
5. Public Health. VA assumes that
certain *presumptive diseases* can be related to a veterans qualifying
military service. Visit the respective VA webpage for more information and specific criteria:
Disability Compensation Claim
Before Leaving Military Service.
If you are a member of the armed forces serving on either
active duty or full time National Guard or Reserve duty (Titles 10 and 32), VA encourages you to apply
through its Pre-Discharge
Program before leaving service. Regardless if you are still on active duty or not, we HIGHLY RECOMMED you read the following document to prepare for your disability examination. A medical doctor who has done hundreds of these examinations provides what you need to know to get the most from your exam and claims submission. Tips for getting the most from your Veterans Administration requested disability benefits exam." How to
Apply. You may apply online via eBenefits (or submit a paper claim). Pittsburgh
PA is the servicing VA Regional Office for Thailand if you use APO AP 96546 or a
Thai street address with the VA. Use the claim form applicable to your filing status:
VA News Excerpt: New Technology in Place for Electronic Submission of Veterans’ Disability Claims. "By filing electronically, any compensation benefits that are awarded will be effective back to the date the Veteran started entering their claim information in eBenefits. From that initial claim establishment date, each Veteran has up to a year to gather all necessary records and hit “submit” to preserve their original date of claim. eBenefits allows Veterans to upload digital images of records and evidence to support their claims, bypassing the need to physically mail in personal records and wait for confirmation of receipt. VA is advising Veterans to gather and submit all relevant medical records and file a Fully Developed Claim (FDC) in eBenefits, which entails entering all available evidence at the time the claim is submitted and verifying to VA that they have no more evidence to submit. Veterans filing an FDC will receive priority processing over the traditional claims process. VA can typically process FDCs in half the time it takes for a traditionally filed claim, and there is no risk to Veterans in filing an FDC. If VA finds that there is a piece of relevant evidence that was not submitted by the Veteran, but is needed for a rating decision (like private medical records), claims processors will work to obtain that evidence on the Veteran’s behalf and process the claim in the traditional way."
7. Get Your
Claim Processed Quicker! The Fully Developed Claims (FDC) Program is the
fastest way of getting your compensation or pension claim
processed. Participation in the FDC Program allows for faster
claims processing while preserving great quality of service and your
right to appeal a decision. Disability
Benefits Questionnaires (DBQs) are central to this program. Participation in the FDC program is strictly voluntary. RAO Note: Be advised, there's an out-of-pocket expense to the veteran for a *self-requested* DBQ examination (inside or outside the U.S.)--see paragraph 16 below.11. Evidence
Requirements. Submit all relevant evidence in
your possession and/or provide information sufficient to enable VA to
obtain all relevant evidence not in your possession. This includes
the following as part of your application:
1) Discharge or
separation papers (DD-214 or equivalent);
2) Service Treatment Records
if they are in your possession, and; 3) Medical evidence (doctor &
hospital reports). See the RAO webpage here about submitting evidence.12. Disability Claim Date Before Medical Treatment. Ensure your disability compensation claim is received by the VA on or before the date of a *self-requested* disability physical exam (or other self-requested medical treatment) for the medical condition you're claiming disability. Reason: The VA Foreign Medical Program (FMP) normally cannot reimburse medical treatment that occurred before a disability compensation claim was received by the VA. FMP is further discussed on the RAO webpage here.
8. Be Your Own Advocate! A veteran must become
his/her own advocate to navigate a stressed VA system. Too many
veterans approach the VA too passively, assuming some advocate will
advance their cause for them. For this reason, RAO staff cannot
stress strongly enough the high importance for VA disability
claimants to be very proactive with managing their claims. Its vital to stay on top of personal responsibilities in the claims process, including carefully reading all VA correspondence and appropriately responding within
mandated time limits. Don't be one of those veterans who fall
into a false sense of security and then cannot understand why their
claim for disability benefits is denied. This also applies to
active duty personnel who *trust* the military to properly maintain
medical and personnel records--make personal copies of your military
health and personnel records while you're still in service. These records are
the evidence needed to establish disability ratings worth a lot of money
over an average lifetime. Reminder: As stated in paragraph 2a above; "Just be advised that while an accredited representative certainly can be
very helpful to you, they still aren't the end-all, save-all.
Ultimately, it's still your personal responsibility to educate
yourself and to manage your claim."
Deploys New Processing Model for Compensation Claims. The
new organizational model involves special handling of claims from
veterans who are facing the most serious injuries or illnesses or
experiencing financial hardships or homelessness, and therefore need
10. Delivery Methods. In addition to using eBenefits, there are other tried and true methods for submitting evidence to the VA, including using a combination of methods to ensure the VA can’t say “we didn’t receive it” or “we didn’t receive it within the allotted time.” Place your full Name, SSN and VA File # (if already assigned a VA File #) in the upper right hand corner of each and every piece of evidence you submit to the VA. Sign your documents and get
them to the VA:
To Accredited Representative or
VA: Fax, Certified/Express Mail, FedEx, DHL, UPS,
: IRIS is information
only--attachments are not permitted.
Fax to your servicing VA Regional Office (VARO) works well with a follow-up message to your servicing VARO through IRIS (gives you proof of
submission--print a hardcopy or .PDF file).
• Veteran's *Self-Requested* Disability Exam •
11. Disability Benefits Questionnaires (DBQs). Veterans who *self-request* a VA disability physical examination typically ask a private licensed health care provider to complete one or more Disability Benefits Questionnaires. We HIGHLY RECOMMED you read the following document to prepare for your disability examination. A medical doctor who has done hundreds of these examinations provides what you need to know to get the most from your exam and claims submission. Tips for getting the most from your Veterans Administration requested disability benefits exam. "Veterans who *self-request* a disability examination (whether or not a DBQ is used) pay 100% up front (out-of-pocket) to a licensed health care provider for the exam. However, be advised that for veterans residing outside of the U.S. (Philippines excluded) there is no reimbursement guarantee by the VA Foreign
Medical Program (FMP) for a *self-requested* disability exam.
Read more: FMP Reimbursement Is Not Guaranteed! RAO Note: Many veterans are mistakenly expecting timely FMP reimbursement for a *self-requested* disability physical exam. For reasons explained below, FMP reimbursement for a *self-requested* disability exam won’t be timely, and it’s even possible the FMP claim may be denied. A veteran's *self-use* of DBQs falls under different FMP reimbursement criteria than does a *VA-Directed* C&P Exam. While a *VA-Directed* C&P Exam can be timely reimbursed by FMP when claims policy is met (avg. 45 business days), FMP reimbursement for a veteran's *self-requested* disability exam first depends upon whether or not disability is awarded by the VA for that medical condition. More below:
VA Disability *Awarded*
: VA FMP can reimburse a veteran's *self-requested* disability examination for the medical condition the VA awarded disability--but only when FMP claims policy is met (this includes the disability compensation claim date being on or before the date of the disability exam).
Just remember that when the veteran’s *self-requested* disability exam is for a medical condition not yet
awarded VA disability, then FMP cannot reimburse that exam unless/until that medical condition is awarded disability, and
FMP claims policy is met. Important Note
: VA Disability
claim adjudication can easily take Months
or even Years
depending upon claim complexity. Therefore, veterans expecting timely FMP reimbursement for a *self-requested* disability exam will be disappointed. (However, FMP can timely reimburse a *VA-Directed* C&P exam when FMP claims policy is met).
VA Disability *Denied*: VA FMP legally cannot reimburse a veteran's *self-requested* disability physical exam for the medical condition the VA denied disability (and when a disability exam date is before the date of the actual disability compensation claim). In this example, if your *self-requested* disability exam costs you 20,000 Baht and your VA disability compensation claim is denied, that's 20,000 Baht you will not be reimbursed. (However, FMP can timely reimburse a *VA-Directed* C&P exam when FMP claims policy is met).
b. Reimbursement Recap. A VA disability physical exam can be quite expensive depending upon required tests for the medical condition(s) being evaluated. For the reasons stated in paragraph 16a above, there's no guarantee FMP will reimburse (at all) a veteran's *self-requested* disability exam. Veterans need to understand this possibility so they may make an informed decision as to whether or not to *self-request* a disability exam (such as when using the Fully Developed Claims Program), or file a disability claim via traditional process and wait for the VA to schedule a *VA-Directed* C&P Exam (which can be FMP reimbursed when policy is met--see paragraph 18 below). Lastly, any issues concerning FMP claim adjudication is strictly between the veteran and FMP. It does not involve consular staff, RAO, TRICARE, or health care provider (unless additional medical/billing documentation is needed from the provider).
& Pension (C&P) Physical Examination
12. Compensation &
Pension (C&P) Examination. The veteran pays for
a *VA-Directed C&P Exam* up front (out-of-pocket) then submits a
claim to the VA Foreign
Medical Program (FMP) for payment consideration--this is clearly stated in the exam notification cover letter
from U.S. Citizen Services (ACS, U.S. Embassy) and in the VA correspondence to the veteran.
Further, make sure the VA has your
current mailing address. If you're moving around and you don't keep your address updated with the VA,
you risk missing your C&P exam notification, and as a result, jeopardize possibly being awarded disability. Also, in most cases, unless the
veteran brings their pertinent service (and private) treatment records
(C-file) to the C&P exam, it would be extremely difficult, if not
impossible, for a physician to render a medical opinion as to
service-connection. Plainly speaking,
gathering and keeping with you a copy of your pertinent records is the
only smart and sensible thing to do. (RAO Note: *Presumptive* medical conditions don't necessarily require your service treatment records--unless those records help to prove you have a presumptive medical condition, that you served in a specific geographic area during a specific time period, and/or you performed certain duties).
• FMP Claim for C&P Examination •
13. File an FMP
Claim for Your VA-Directed C&P Examination.
In addition to meeting claims documentation, information, and timely filing
requirements in the FMP Brochure and Guide (located on the FMP page), RAO staff recommends you also include
with your FMP claim a copy of the VA 21-2507 (Request for Physical
Examination) that directed you undergo a C&P
examination. As well, if it's your first-ever FMP
claim, also include a completed FMP Registration Claim. Lastly, remember to always submit proof of payment, and keep a copy of all claims you submit.
• Appeal a C&P Rating Decision •
14. VA Pamphlet 01-15-02B, May 2015 "How Do I Appeal" contains information on filing an appeal on VA's rating decision for your disability. Filing a Notice of Disagreement (NOD) starts the VA appeals process. A NOD is a simple letter to the VA stating you disagree with their disability compensation claim rating decision. Some Examples: “I respectfully disagree with the VA’s decision denying service-connection for my Spine Condition." Or; "I respectfully disagree with the VA’s decision awarding me 0% for my Spine Condition. I believe the rating should be higher than 0%.” Also required is the VA Form 21-0958 - Notice of Disagreement if you disagree with any part of your VA disability compensation claim rating decision. Concurrently with a NOD, you may also request a *De Novo* review. A de novo review is a new and complete review of the appealed issue with no deference given to the decision being appealed. This review leads to a new decision, which may be a full grant, partial grant, clear and unmistakable error, or no change. A claimant may not have more than one review under this section of the same decision. RAO Advice: Closely read all VA correspondence taking careful note of action required and suspense dates so as to preserve your right to appeal. As well, if you haven't already done so, consider nominating an accredited representative to assist you.
15. Board of Veterans'
Appeals. The Board of Veterans' Appeals (also known as
"BVA" or "the Board") is a part of the VA, located in Washington,
D.C. Members of the Board review benefit claims determinations
made by local VA offices and issue decision on appeals. These Law
Judges, attorneys experienced in veterans law and in reviewing benefit
claims, are the only ones who can issue Board decisions. Staff
attorneys, also trained in veterans' law, review the facts of each appeal
and assist the Board members. Anyone who is not satisfied with the
results of a claim for veterans benefits (determined by a VA regional
office, medical center, or other local VA office) should read the "How do I Appeal" pamphlet. It is intended to
explain the steps involved in filing an appeal and to serve as a
reference for the terms and abbreviations used in the appeal process. Also See: Board of Veterans' Appeals Decisions Search.
Individual Unemployability is a part of VA's disability compensation
program that allows VA to pay certain veterans disability compensation
at the 100% rate, even though VA has not rated their service-connected
disabilities at the total level. Eligibility
You must be a
veteran. You must have at least one
service connected disability rated at least at 60%,
Two or more service connected
disabilities at least one disability ratable at 40 percent or more
with a combined rating of 70 percent or more.
You must be unable to maintain substantially
gainful employment as a result of service-connected disabilities
(marginal employment, such as odd jobs, is not considered substantial
gainful employment for VA purposes).
exceptional circumstances this benefit may be granted with a lower
disability rating than noted above provided the evidence shows the
service-connected disability or disabilities present such an exceptional
or unusual disability picture, due to such factors as marked
interference with employment or frequent periods of hospitalization,
that applying the normal disability requirements is impractical.
to Your Claim
17. Add Your Dependents to Your
Claim. If you didn't include your dependents on your initial
disability claim, or you have gained dependents since filing or being
awarded disability, you may update your claim with your dependent
information by submitting VA
21-686c - Declaration of Status of Dependents to the VA Regional
Office managing your claim. As well, veterans in receipt of 30% or
greater compensation benefits and who are eBenefits Premium (DS Logon
level 2) account holders can apply to have new dependents added to their
benefits profile via the VONAPP Direct Connect (VDC) tool on the
eBenefits portal (see eBenefits
FAQs). Lastly, all Thai language dependency documents
(marriage certificate, divorce decree, spouse's birth certificate,
child's birth certificate, etc.) require certified English translation
to be submitted with the Thai language documents. *Legalization*
(called *Authentication* in the U.S.) of Thai
documents is presently not required.
• File for an Increase in Disability Rating •
18. File for an Increase in Disability Rating. A VA Disability Ratings Increase is for veterans who feel their service-connected medical conditions have worsened since their last rating decision. To request or file for an increase in rating is a simple matter. Write a letter to your servicing VA Regional Office clearly stating that you believe an increase in rating is warranted, the percentage rating you feel is correct, the reason(s) why you believe so, and then submit the evidence necessary to support your claim. If you file for an increase in rating, be duly advised that requesting an increase in an existing disability rating carries with it a measure of risk. Since the VA always wants to ensure that you are *correctly* rated, the inherent risk in requesting an increase in rating is that the exact opposite may happen--the VA may possibly decrease the rating. Again, any time you request an increase in rating it brings your VA disability file under scrutiny for the reason being that your disability rating should at all times match your physical condition as closely as possible. Schedule for Rating Disabilities.
No VA Medical
19. VA Medical
Facility. *** None in Thailand *** Planning a
visit or relocation to Thailand? Educate yourself now, before you arrive: Foreign
Medical Program (excluding Philippines).
Manila Outpatient Clinic | Guam
| American Samoa. If you require medically-necessary treatment
for a VA-rated service-connected medical condition, you can either pay
up front to the caregiver and file for payment consideration through the
Medical Program (see next section), or obtain care at a VA
medical facility. Also, for a visiting veteran from the
U.S., Guam, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, or the Philippines, FMP will
cover emergency care for a service-connected medical condition, but
normally not entertain a claim for a veteran who comes to Thailand to
circumvent VA health care available to them where they reside (aka
Medical Tourism). Contact FMP directly to learn more about VA health benefits before you
VA Foreign Medical Program (FMP)
VA Foreign Medical Program (FMP) ***
"VA may authorize foreign
medical services for veterans only for a VA rated
service-connected condition or for a condition that is associated
with and aggravated by a VA rated service-connected
condition. Disability percentages have no bearing on
determining eligibility for FMP medical services.
Additionally, VA may authorize necessary foreign medical services
for any condition for a veteran participating in the VA Vocational
Rehabilitation Program (38 U.S.C. 31)."
Medical Program (FMP). The VA established the Foreign
Medical Program to provide health care benefits to U.S. veterans with
VA-rated service-connected conditions who are residing or traveling
abroad (Philippines excluded). VA is responsible for paying for all foreign-provided, medically necessary services associated with the treatment of adjudicated, service-connected disabilities or for any condition associated with and held to be aggravating a service-connected disability. Veterans should submit claims for the treatment of any service-connected disabilities to FMP. (Note: The FMP office does not issue pre-certification for foreign medical
a. RAO Note
#1: FMP will also reimburse a VA-directed C&P
Physical Exam when claims policy is met.
b. RAO Note
#2: There is no guarantee that FMP will reimburse a veteran's *self-requested* physical exam (whether or not a Disability Benefits Questionnaire is used). A veteran's *self-requested* disability exam is exactly that--it's *self-requested*, and not VA-directed. Please visit the RAO's webpage here for an explanation of out-of-pocket expenses and FMP reimbursement policy pertaining to a veteran's *self-requested* disability examination.
• No Coverage in U.S. or Philippines •
2. Does the Foreign Medical Program (FMP) authorization cover required healthcare services while the veteran is back visiting in the United States? No. FMP authorizations are limited to healthcare services obtained in foreign countries only. Should services be required while in the United States, the veteran should contact the nearest VA health care facility. In addition to not covering services received in the U.S., FMP authorizations do not cover services received in the Philippines.
• Pay 100% *Up Front* •
3. 100% Payment Up Front. Normally, payment is up front
(out-of-pocket) to a health care provider, then file for payment consideration with FMP. If you're a veteran residing
in Thailand who has a need for long-term treatment of a
service-connected medical condition, it's possible your care provider
may be willing to bill FMP directly for treatment of that
service-connected medical condition. However, the decision to direct bill FMP
rests solely with your care provider. For direct billing,
care providers often ask for *Guarantee Payment*. The VA does not provide *Guarantee Payment*. And, just to be
perfectly clear, any discussion of direct billing is strictly between
the veteran and care provider. It does not involve the RAO
• Reimbursement by U.S. Treasury Check •
4. How are payments made for Foreign Medical Program (FMP) benefits? All FMP payments are made by U.S. treasury checks, issued in U.S. currency. Payments are based on the exchange rate applicable to the date service was rendered, or in the case of hospitalization, the discharge date. (RAO Note:
For correctly completed and filed claims, plan on at least 45 business days to receive reimbursement. If part (or all) of your claim is denied, calmly and maturely try to determine the reason, and appeal it if necessary. Ranting about it and acting unprofessionally will not work in your favor).
• FMP is for All *Service-Connected* Veterans •
5. FMP is for All
*Service-Connected* Veterans. Due to misinformation
posted in a local online forum, the RAO was asked if FMP is
only for *disabled veterans who did not retire*?
Fact: FMP is for retired and non-retired veterans
alike who have a VA-rated service-connected disability, and who are residing or traveling
abroad (Philippines excluded). Hence, a
U.S. military veteran retired for longevity or medically retired
may indeed use FMP for his/her service-connected medical condition(s),
and also use TRICARE (or other health insurance) for non
service-connected medical conditions. In one case, a retired veteran for
seven years had used TRICARE for his VA-rated service-connected medical
conditions stating that he *wasn't aware* of FMP's availability.
Surely, TRICARE's 25% cost-share over a seven-year period is not a
small sum. (RAO staff suggested he file an FMP claim to try to
recoup applicable unreimbursed TRICARE cost-shares for the preceding two
years--under FMP's normal two-year claim filing policy).
File an FMP
6. How to File an FMP Claim.
In addition to meeting claims documentation and information
requirements in the FMP
Handbook, if it's your first-ever FMP
claim, also include a completed FMP
Registration Form. While veterans may select providers of their choice, it is recommended that the selected providers have the ability to produce their medical documents and billing statements in English. Documentation and billing statements that are submitted in a foreign language will require contracted translation services which will delay claims processing and payment. For claim integrity reasons, translations by anyone other than the provider or the FMP translation contractor will not be accepted. Lastly, remember to always submit proof of payment, and keep a copy of all claims you submit7. FMP
Timely Filing of Claims. Claims for payment or
reimbursement for expenses of medical care or services must be filed no
later than two years after: 1) The date the care or service was
rendered, or; 2) The date of discharge (for inpatient
hospitalization). Also see paragraph 8 immediately below.
Please also visit: Claims
• FMP *Retroactive*
*Retroactive* Claim. In the case of a retroactive VA
adjudication of service-connection: 1) The claim must be filed
within 2 years of the date the veteran was notified by VA of the
allowance of a award of the service-connected disability; 2) Claims may
be considered for payment for medical services received within a
two-year period prior to the date the veteran filed an original or
reopened claim which resulted in an award of service-connection, but
never prior to the effective date of the award, and; 3) Payment will
never be made for care received beyond this 2-year period whether
service connected or not.
a. RAO Note
you were rated by the VA to have a service-connected medical
condition(s), you likely used TRICARE (or other health insurance) for
treatment of your medical condition(s) that the VA has now rated to be
service-connected. In this scenario, you may file a *retroactive*
claim with FMP to try to recoup unreimbursed cost-shares paid to TRICARE
(or other health insurance). VA correspondence will tell you how
far back in time you may file a retro claim.
b. RAO Note
you file a retro claim, in addition to your original treatment
documentation, itemized billing invoices, and proof of payment, you must include TRICARE's (and/or other health insurance)
Explanation of Benefits (EOB) for all claims pertaining to your
service-connected medical conditions for which you are now filing a
retro claim. If you don't submit an EOB(s) FMP may be unable to
process your claim--FMP and TRICARE cross-queue to prevent fraudulent
*double-dipping*. If you previously didn't use TRICARE (or other
health insurance) you may of course file an FMP claim for payment
consideration for the [unreimbursed] amount you paid--just be
prepared to receive a request for additional information.
Medication. FMP does
not offer a pharmacy mailout program -- *** REPEAT *** -- FMP
does NOT mail medication outside of the U.S., even to an APO, FPO, or DPO address
Prescriptions). Moreover, FMP does not reimburse
for non-U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) approved
medication, nor vitamins, therefore, Physicians should only prescribe
medication that is legally available within the veteran's country of
residence and are accepted by the VA and U.S. FDA. By Federal
law, FMP cannot pay for prescription medication that is not U.S. FDA
approved. Do you want to keep more money in your pocket? Always ask your care provider to prescribe U.S. FDA-approved medication: Drugs@FDA.
RAO Note: A number of veterans residing
outside of the U.S. are lucky to have had [mistakenly] been receiving
their VA medication via mail direct from the VA despite the VA's own policy of not mailing
medication outside of the U.S. In many instances, the VA has
caught their error and terminated the mailing of medication.
Occasionally, a veteran will complain and ask the RAO the reason why
they can no longer receive their VA medication via mail. As
previously stated, the plain answer is that the VA simply caught the
fact that they were violating their own mailing policy. For those
veterans lucky enough to still be receiving their VA medication via
mail, don't be surprised if the VA eventually catches their error and
stops mailing medication to you.
• Death of a U.S.
of a U.S. Citizen. Death is a difficult
experience for one's family and friends no matter where it takes
place. When death occurs overseas the experience can be
even harder, especially if the procedures involved are not clearly
understood. U.S. Citizen Services (ACS) (U.S.
Embassy or U.S. Consulate General) is ready to assist family and friends in the
event of the death of an American Citizen in Thailand.
RAO Note: If your wishes are for your remains to be repatriated back to the U.S., what is your plan and means of payment to make it happen? Also, if you have no loved ones here in Thailand, do you intend for your remains to languish in the morgue until your body is disposed of by local authorities? One such stay in the morgue was nine months before the body was disposed of. Think about it. Lastly, while the RAO is not normally permitted to highlight a private business, there are only a few known international repatriation services in Thailand: Teck Hong | Siam Funeral | John Allison Monkhouse. If you know of other international repatriation service providers based in Thailand, please inform the RAO.
Assistance. The key to Survivor
Assistance is thorough Preparation! To help your eligible survivors prepare for the
inevitable, we make available this webpage, a family preparation handout titled What My Family Should Know, and a Casualty
Assistance Worksheet. This webpage, handout, and
worksheet reflect typical benefits and typically-required
information. Numerous documents
will need to be assembled--do so NOW--and also please include a 'Cover
Letter' detailing your marital history, insurance, finances, etc. A cover letter helps remove ambiguity and quite possibly helps explain
information that is needed to support one or more applications for
benefits. Lastly, all Thai language documents require certified
English translation. Thai language and certified English
translation documents are submitted together. (*Legalization* of
Thai documents is no longer required to apply for U.S. benefits. But, Legalization
of Thai documents is an option when applying for an ITIN).
Do you have a Last
Will & Testament
? Does your executor and heirs
know where it is
? (Typically used for asset disposition;
specific instructions as to guardianship for your minor children if
both parents pass away (or become incapacitated) within the same time
period; to specify disposition of your remains--Burial, and desired
location of burial; Cremation, and disposition of cremains;
: A Will that jointly covers assets and
wishes in both the U.S. and Thailand is recommended to be notarized by
"International Notary" being that individual U.S. states may possibly
not legally recognize a Will notarized by Thai notary
seal / stamp. Contact your state to learn their legal
requirements, and/or check your local area for International Notary
Do you have a Letter
of Instruction (LOI)
? Does your
executor and heirs know where it is
end-of-life desires may cover anything, especially burial or cremation
if your Will is inaccessible, just know that it is not
binding). The LOI should supplement the Will,
it should never contradict it--if it does, the Will takes
: It would be very prudent to include in an LOI, disposition of
Does your Last Will & Testament or Letter of
Instruction specify disposition of your remains--such as
?Does your Last Will & Testament or Letter of
Instruction specify a family member or friend that is going to repatriate your remains, if repatriation is your wish?Do you have Next-of-Kin or an Emergency Contact
person in the U.S.
? Who in
Thailand has that information
?If any previous marriages, what is the Name,
Date of Birth, and SSN of your former spouse(s)
? Date and Location of Marriage
? Date and Location of Divorce or Death
? If you don't already have the original or certified
divorce document(s) in your possession, why not
? Thai Amphurs | U.S. Vital Records
.If your spouse is Thai and
doesn't already have an original or certified Birth Certificate issued
by the Amphur
where they were born, or a Proof of Birth document from "Census
Registration" (Bangkok) showing date of birth--Why
? (Census Registration,
Telephone: 02-281-5000).Has your spouse committed to memory your Social
?Who is going to assist your survivors with legal
: Not the RAO or JUSMAG).Who is going to assist your survivors with
: Not the RAO or
Who is going to prepare your taxes for year of
death, and any prior tax years? (Hint: Not the RAO or
Is your spouse able to speak sufficient English
so as to be able to help themself?
copies of your DD-214(s)
equivalent) are at the core of your survivors receiving
U.S. Federal benefits in a timely manner--NOW is the time to request
your DD-214s! For example: It sometimes takes over 90 days to receive certified
DD-214s from the National
Personnel Records Center (or other source as
specified on page 3 of Standard
Form 180). Also, ALL Divorce
Decrees for both sponsor and spouse are needed--collect them NOW as it's
often faster and legally easier to do so while you're still alive:
(ease of obtaining divorce decrees from the U.S. varies by
same applies to current Marriage and Birth Certificates (for survivors)
Once all required documents are submitted, plan to start receiving eligible benefits in
3 Months. SSA:
3 Months. VA
Survivors Pension: 9-12
Year+. If benefit payments start earlier--great! Surviving spouses become angry and upset when they're informed of the
expected timeline, and they try to blame the USG. Creating
sufficient financial reserves is a family
responsibility. Does your family have
adequate reserves to cover six months or more of living expenses
including, but not limited to, medical care and monthly payments for
home / property, vehicle, private school, etc.? If
your DD-214(s) must first be ordered from the NPRC (or branch of
service), add an additional 3 months to your financial
reserves. A similar time delay applies when
having to order a divorce decree(s). Not having original
or certified DD-214s, Divorce Decree(s) (for sponsor and spouse), and Thai spouses' Birth Certificate, are the top delays
to benefits receipt.
Marriage. Anecdotally, it seems
the subject that tends to cause the most angst and denial of survivor
benefits is not successfully meeting the *marriage* criteria--either
not being legally married, or being married less than one
year: For VA SP or DIC, a marriage must have been
over one year; or widow with a child by the veteran; or be pregnant by
the veteran. Source: http://cfr.vlex.com/vid/3-54-marriage-dates-19774098.
A survivors marriage to the sponsor must be deemed
valid. While some U.S. states and some other
countries legally recognize a de facto marriage as a
valid marriage, the principle of a common law or de facto
marriage is NOT recognized under Thai law: http://www.thailandlawonline.com/thai-family-and-marriage-law/civil-law-sections-conditions-of-marriage
(Sections 1457 & 1458).
& Accounting Service DFAS Retiree Newsletter
- Arrears of Pay (AOP). Arrears of Pay is
a one-time payment made to a beneficiary
after your death. The AOP payment to
your beneficiary will include: 1) The pro-rated
amount of your final months pay, and; 2) Any other money owed to you at
the time of your death. In most cases,
Arrears of Pay will include the pro-rated amount of your final month's
retirement pay. This is because your entitlement
to retirement pay ends on the date of your death. When your death is
reported, DFAS will reclaim your final month's pay and
audit your account. The amount of the payment
actually owed to you will then be computed and given to your AOP
beneficiary. DFAS will also contact this person
for help with closing your account.
5. DFAS - Survivor
Benefit Plan (SBP). Thai Citizens not taxed (Thai-U.S. Tax
Treaty). U.S. Citizens are taxed. SBP
was created by Congress in 1972 (began September 21, 1972) to put an end
to the category of destitute survivors. SBP
provides a monthly annuity of 55 percent of the annuity base amount,
cost-of-living adjusted, to the eligible spouse or
children. The monthly annuity for a natural
person with an insurable interest is 55 percent of the amount of the
gross retired pay after cost of participation is
subtracted. SBP is designed to protect your
survivors against the risks of: Your early death,
survivor outliving benefits and inflation. SBP is
offset / reduced by VA DIC (paragraph 11 below) up to SBP's full amount.
Frequently Asked Question: "I wasn't married when I retired, so I did not make an
election under SBP. If I get married after retirement, may I elect
coverage for my spouse under SBP?" In this scenario,
you may elect SBP coverage for the first spouse you
marry after retirement. However, you must elect
the coverage before the first anniversary of your
marriage. Send a letter to DFAS (or use DD Form 2656-6)
requesting SBP coverage for your spouse, and provide your Spouse's Name,
Social Security Number, Date of Birth and a copy of the Marriage
When a member retires the account is
calculated per the laws in effect on how to establish the account. Information may be found in DoD
7000.14-R, Vol 7B (Chapter 49) regarding how premiums were
calculated prior to March 1986, and afterwards. At
retirement, full basic SBP for spouse and children takes effect automatically if you make no other valid
election. Furthermore, you may
not reduce or decline spouse coverage without your spouse's written
consent. You may choose coverage
for a former spouse or, if you have no spouse or children, you may be
able to cover an "insurable interest" (e.g., a business partner or
parent). If you elect SBP you'll be required to
pay a monthly premium.
Premiums (Chapter 45) and benefits are based on the "Annuity Base Amount" or
benefit level that you elect. Your base amount
can be any amount between $300 per month and full retired
pay. For those who opt for full
coverage, the Annuity Base Amount is a figure that is slightly higher
than Gross Pay. Further, SBP premiums are not
based on 'disposable' income--in other words it is not based on the
member's pay after deductions.
For example, the 'VA Waiver' is simply a deduction from pay
required based on other laws. This happens after
the member has already retired and has had the account and SBP costs
established. Information may be found in DoD
7000.14-R, Vol 7B (Chapter 12) concerning waivers of retired pay.
of SBP Costs (if Surviving Spouse receiving DIC, paragraph 11
below): A refund is paid to your surviving
spouse for the costs deducted for that part of the SBP benefit not
received due to DIC being paid. If the DIC
payment offsets the entire SBP payment, all costs will be
refunded. These refunds are taxed as income to
the survivor since they were not taxed when deducted from retired
pay. (Note: Refunds
are not made for: 1) Added costs associated with
1992-93 Open Season enrollments/changes, or; 2) Enrollment costs
associated with 1999-2000 Open Season elections). Information may be found in DoD
7000.14-R, Vol 7B (Chapter 46) concerning premium refund due to DIC award.
RAO Note: SBP is a benefit that can
quickly and easily become complicated. Therefore, the single
best advice we can offer you on this topic is for you to contact
DFAS directly to discuss your personal situation.
Security Administration - U.S. Embassy, Manila.
SSA Manila prefers that benefits applicants contact them
directly (instead of contacting the U.S. Embassy or Consulate).
Telephone Interviews. SSA prefers
to conduct telephone interviews with applicants, therefore, SSA will
phone you from their Manila office when you provide your telephone
number. Note: If
you ever receive an unsolicited phone call or email
purporting to be from a government agency or commercial business
(i.e., you didn't initiate contact with them), beware of a possible
Certified Documents. SSA requires
that supporting documents be certified (no cost at ACS when
documents are used to apply for U.S. Federal benefits), and must be sent by ACS to SSA--in order to maintain document integrity.
7. Social Security Survivor
Benefits. U.S. Citizen children may be taxed.
Adult single U.S. Citizens are partially taxed if earning over $25K/Year. Thai Citizens
(non-resident aliens) who are eligible to be paid
in Thailand (residency
requirements) are taxed at 30% of 85% of your benefit--an effective tax rate of
25.5%. The 25.5% tax is a flat tax--it is not
withholding, and is non-refundable. SSA benefit
amount prior to the tax reduction is the amount that offsets the VA's
Survivors Pension (SP) (paragraph 10 below). If the SSA net amount paid to
a Thai citizen residing in Thailand is less than the VA SP amount, do
not apply. Moreover, the U.S. does not have a Social
Security agreement with Thailand, and the Thai-U.S. Tax
Treaty specifically excludes U.S. Social Security benefits.
If you are not a U.S. citizen (child or adult),
you must have lived in the United States for at least five years. During those five years, the family relationship
on which benefits are based must have existed. The residency
requirement will not apply to you if you meet any of
the following conditions: 1) You were initially
eligible for monthly benefits before January 1, 1985, or; 2) You are
entitled on the record of a worker who died while in the U.S. military
service or as a result of a service-connected disease or
injury. Source: http://www.ssa.gov/pubs/10137.html. b. Your unmarried
children who are under 18 (up to age 19 if attending elementary
or secondary school full time) can be eligible to receive Social
Security benefits when you die. Note:
requirements apply--also be advised: "...children adopted
outside the United States will not be paid outside the United States,
even if the residency requirement is met."
(RAO Note: If in doubt, contact
SSA Manila to discuss your case specifics).
When a Social Security beneficiary dies, a benefit is not
payable for the month of death. For example, if a
beneficiary died any time in June, the payment dated July (which is
payment for June) should be returned to sender.
VA Regional Office -
Veterans Affairs Regional Office
Team, Room 1514
Tel: 1-800-827-1000 (VA General Contact)
1000 Liberty Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15222-4004
- Arrears of Pay (AOP). Officially known
as *Accrued Benefits Due a Deceased Beneficiary*.
Accrued benefits are benefits that were due the beneficiary at
the time of death but not paid prior to death.
Entitlement to accrued benefits is determined according to the
line of succession established by law.
Survivors Pension (SP). (Formerly known
as *Death Pension*). Not Taxed. Based on
by Social Security (scroll down to *Survivors Pension*).
Survivors Pension is a needs-based benefit paid to an eligible unremarried surviving spouse, or an unmarried child of a
deceased wartime veteran.
There are a number of criteria that may affect
eligibility to receive pension benefits. VA pays
the difference between 'countable income' and an annual rate of payment
established by Congress (Survivors
Please also see *SBP* (paragraph 5 above) if you've already
elected, or are thinking about electing SBP. SBP
& VA Benefits (Death Pension & DIC, VBA M21-1,
Part IV, Ch. 26, para. 26.24, p. 26-IV-4).
Dependency & Indemnity Compensation (DIC).
Not Taxed. Not offset by another benefit, but DIC does offset/reduce SBP dollar-for-dollar. DIC is a
monthly benefit paid to eligible survivors of a military service
member who died while on active duty, active duty for training, or
inactive duty training, OR veteran whose death resulted from a
service-related injury or disease, OR veteran whose death resulted from
a non- service-related injury or disease, and who was receiving, or was
entitled to receive, VA Compensation for service-connected disability
that was rated as totally disabling for at least 10 years immediately
before death, OR since the veterans release from active duty and for at
least five years immediately preceding death, OR for at least one year
before death if the veteran was a former prisoner of war who died after
September 30, 1999.
Please also see *SBP* (paragraph 5 above) if you've already
elected, or are thinking about electing SBP. SBP
& VA Benefits (Death Pension & DIC, VBA M21-1,
Part IV, Ch. 26, para. 26.24, p. 26-IV-4).
Helper. Perhaps the most important thing you
as the sponsor can do now is to identify an honest,
trustworthy, and reliable person to assist your dependents
after your passing. Do you want your loved ones
falling prey to a person(s) motivated by greed?
Someone who promises assistance, but only in return for
compensation? We wouldnt!
Yet, those persons exist--we've seen it, and we don't provide
assistance to clients who are connected with those
persons. (RAO Benefits Advisors proudly
render assistance for FREE). Also, please choose someone
who will work with us, not against us--we don't have time for
hindrance, and we don't indulge it. RAO Benefits
Advisors know how to properly assist survivors of fallen comrades, and
we stand ready to do so!
12. Pay Suspension. Surviving family member beneficiaries who are
experiencing pay suspension with DFAS, OPM, SSA, or VA benefits should
respectively contact Defense Finance
& Accounting Service (DFAS), OPM,
Manila, the VA Pension
Management Center (PMC) directly, or for SSA and VA pay
issues, they may visit U.S. Citizen Services (ACS) (U.S.
Embassy | U.S.
Consulate General) for assistance (Note:
ACS is unable to assist with DFAS issues). Regarding RAO
assistance to eligible surviving family members, due to mission
rightsizing the RAO's prime focus is assisting U.S. military retirees
residing in Thailand followed by providing Survivor Assistance to their
eligible survivors and is no longer able to assist with *typical* VA or
SSA pay suspension issues for surviving family members.
English-speaking beneficiaries can fix issues much easier and
faster by themselves--directly contacting the pertinent
agency brings much swifter resolution, often immediate--this fact is
proven time and again.
Defense Finance &
Accounting Service (DFAS)
Defense Finance &
People applying for Social Security, veterans benefits, or other federal
benefits on or after May 1, 2011, will receive their payments
electronically starting with their first payment.
By March 1,
2013, everyone (except for certain recipients born prior to May
1, 1921) receiving federal benefits by paper check were required to have switched to
With Direct Deposit, the U.S. Treasury will deposit the money
directly into your bank account every month. Moreover, you dont have to
worry about your check if you travel or move--but, you should always
update your address with the U.S. Government agency that issues your
monthly check. For more information regarding Direct Deposit,
please view the following: U.S. Embassy Thailand | DFAS
- Direct Deposit. Direct Deposit Sign-Up Form: SF-1199A.
Direct Deposit in Thailand.
Bangkok Bank is presently the only U.S. Government-authorized
provider of Direct
Deposit services in Thailand for persons who receive U.S.
Federal benefits from the following agencies:
DFAS, OPM, SSA, and VA. Funds first go to the New
York Branch and are then transferred to Bangkok.
Present Fees: 0.25% of the Sum, minimum 200 Baht and
maximum 500 Baht, and a New York Branch transfer
fee based upon amount being transferred.
Facts. A Bangkok Bank *Direct
Deposit* account is strictly a savings account and with *only a single name permitted on the account*--no joint accounts, no online banking, no ATM
Card, and no checks. Due to Bangkok Bank's fraud prevention policy, you must appear in-person each month to withdraw your funds. On the upside,
with Bangkok Bank's Direct Deposit Service, funds are converted into
Thai Baht at the higher, more favorable Telegraphic Transfer (T/T)
exchange rate in Thailand (as compared to using a foreign (U.S.) ATM
card in Thailand--180 Baht per transaction and funds are converted into
Thai Baht at the lower exchange rate for ATM transactions). Lastly, if you already have, or sign up for, a Bangkok Bank Direct
Deposit account, you may also transfer funds--in-person--from
your direct deposit account into another Bangkok Bank savings account
which offers internet banking and ATM card.
b. Online Funds Transfer
from a U.S. Bank to Bangkok Bank.
If you are using direct deposit to a U.S. Bank and
are also using the internet banking service of a U.S. bank,
you may transfer funds from your U.S. bank account by using domestic
interbank menu to any Bangkok Bank account by stipulating the 9-digit
routing number for Bangkok Banks New York branch (026008691) in your
Funds will be transferred via the U.S. ACH system directly to your
Bangkok Bank account in Thailand, for a lower fee than most other
international wire transfer services. This method employs the same
fee structure as Bangkok Banks direct deposit service. Fees are subject to change without prior notice. Contact Bangkok
Bank directly for terms and conditions. If
choosing to sign up for Direct Deposit Service with Bangkok Bank, visit
your local Bangkok Bank branch to do so. Bangkok Bank Direct Deposit, Telephone: 02-230-1323.
• RAO Comment: Married persons who are each receiving one or more monthly annuities must establish separate Bangkok Bank Direct Deposit accounts from each other, but individually you may have more than one annuity deposited into a single direct
deposit account (e.g., DFAS, OPM, SSA, VA, etc.). As well, single persons may have more than one monthly annuity deposited into a single direct
deposit account. Your local area Bangkok Bank branch establishes your direct deposit account (when you've met all their requirements) and prepares the SF-1199a Direct Deposit Sign Up form and submits it to the relevant agency (DFAS, OPM, SSA, VA, etc.). When signing up for a Bangkok Bank direct deposit account, bring your passport and the award letter and/or annuity statement proving your eligibility to be receiving that monthly annuity. Bangkok Bank may request additional information depending upon case specifics.
Internal Revenue Service
Internal Revenue Service
1. Do I still
have to file a U.S. Individual Income Tax Return if I live in
Thailand? Many U.S. citizens living abroad
mistakenly believe they do not have to file and/or pay U.S.
taxes. Leaving the country does not exempt U.S.
citizens from their U.S. tax obligations. While
some retirees may not owe any U.S. income tax while they are living
abroad, U.S. citizens are normally required to file a U.S. tax return
each year, provided they have earned a minimum income, an amount that
varies with income, marital status, and age. This
is the case even if you move all of your assets to a foreign
country--you may still be taxed on income regardless of where it is
earned. As always, your unique financial
situation dictates whether or not you actually need to file a tax
return. For specific information, please see IRS
Publications 54 & 17, and/or
consult a U.S. tax professional. Also
Visit: Foreign Financial
Account and Foreign
Account Tax Compliance Act.
Retirees abroad must also fulfill any tax obligations
of their foreign country of residence. The United
States has tax treaties with a number of countries that address double
taxation, but these treaties generally don't exempt residents from the
obligation to file a return. Retirees who acquire
any assets abroad should also consider the need to modify estate plans,
since those assets may be subject to local estate tax rules.
Insurance is another factor to consider with assets
acquired overseas. Most U.S. umbrella liability
policies don't cover international assets. For
more information, please review the IRSs tax information for US.
Citizens & Resident Aliens Abroad.
Basic annual Income Tax preparation
can easily be completed by pen and paper, online or by purchasing tax
preparation software. Of course, you may also contact a
brick-and-mortar tax preparation service if you don't feel comfortable
using an online service, or don't wish to prepare it
yourself. ACS (U.S.
Embassy): Taxes + Tax
Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)
• RAO Webmaster's Note: There are various reasons why an ITIN may be needed. For purposes of the ITIN discussion here, the reason is for: "A nonresident alien individual not eligible for an SSN who
elects to file a joint U.S. tax return with a spouse who is a U.S. citizen or resident alien."Individual
Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). With the
exception of unique, case-by-case situations, the U.S. Social Security
Administration (SSA) normally will not issue a Social Security
Number to a non-resident alien spouse residing in Thailand. Thus,
presuming a non-resident alien spouse is ineligible to be
issued a U.S. Social Security Number, in order to file a joint U.S.
Federal Income Tax Return, a non-resident alien spouse must apply for an
W-7) and enter it in the block for the Social Security Number on
the applicable variant of IRS Form 1040 being used.
Further, the IRS will normally delay processing an ITIN
application until a tax return is filed (unless the ITIN is needed for another reason). (Note: An ITIN is issued by the IRS, not by SSA). When possible (and of course,
when required), send authorized *copies* of documents to the IRS in lieu
of sending *originals*. (RAO Note: Even though sending original Thai documents to the IRS is an authorized option (the IRS returns originals to the applicant), the applicant doubles the risk of losing an original document in the mail. General ITIN Info & How to Apply. Once the ITIN applicant has assembled the documentation required by the IRS to prove *foreign status* and *identity*, a Thai applicant has three choices for document submission:
1) Send *originals* to the IRS (the IRS will return originals); 2) Submit a *certified* (legalized) copy of their Thai documentation that was *Legalized* by the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs, or;
3) Make an appointment and visit
U.S. Citizen Services (ACS) (U.S.
Embassy and U.S.
to have their Thai documentation *notarized* (embossed seal) by
ACS. Previously, *Legalization* and *Notarization* were both required by the IRS, but now it's either-or (or send originals). The ACS fee for notarization is $50 per
document. If you choose the ACS *Notarization* option, ACS will attach to IRS Form W-7 the notarized copy(ies) of your Thai documentation. Lastly, neither ACS nor RAO track the Thai MFA legalization fee. Contact the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs to learn more about Legalization.
SSA & Green
2. Lawful Permanent
Residents (Green Card holders). (see page 5 of the linked IRS Pub 915) For U.S.
income tax purposes, lawful permanent residents (green card holders) are
considered resident aliens until their lawful permanent resident status
under the immigration laws is either taken away or is administratively
or judicially determined to have been abandoned.
Social security (SSA) benefits paid to a green card holder are
not subject to 30% withholding. If you are a green card holder and tax was withheld in
error on your SSA benefits because you have a foreign address, the
withholding tax is refundable by SSA or the IRS.
Federal Voting Assistance
Program. Voting is a constitutional right
that American citizens eighteen years and older can freely
exercise. The Uniformed and Overseas Citizens
Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) covers all active-duty members of the
Uniformed Services and their families, members of the merchant marine
and their families, and U.S. citizens who reside overseas, and assists
them in exercising their right to vote. Elections
are managed individually by all 55 states and territories.
This means that there are 55 sets of rules for absentee voting
by UOCAVA citizens. The website provides
UOCAVA citizens with the state-specific information they need
to register to vote and request and return their ballot, or to complete
an emergency back-up write-in ballot. If you wish
to perform any of these tasks, go to the link above and choose the "Get
Started" button under the category of UOCAVA citizen that
Space-A Flights - *Singapore and Clark PI
Travel. *** None in Thailand *** Space-A flight availability in and out of Thailand ended in
2007 due to mission changes. The nearest Space-A aerial port is Singapore Passenger Terminal (RSAF Paya Lebar AB) and Clark PI. For Clark Space-A schedule visit here. When
traveling Space-A be prepared to fly commercial if problems arise.
Yokota Air Base. Yokota Air Base, Japan is the primary Space A link to RSAF Paya Labar. All flights to and from Paya Labar come through Yokota Air Base. Please click here for more information on Yokota. Please note you must have a Facebook account to access this link. Other information will be published via this website when available.
1. Traveling to Thailand.
The 'Land of Smiles' certainly has many wonderful things
to see and do across a wide range of traveler preferences.
Individual traveler tastes run the gamut of traditional tourism,
eco-tourism, medical tourism, etc. Along those lines, we frequently are
asked to recommend hotels, specific activities, and the best means of
travel inside Thailand. Even so, there are too many options, all
unique to a traveler's personal tastes, price point, travel time,
desired destination, etc., and as a result, we must limit our
help to just answering basic questions. Since
the ease of use of the internet makes trip planning relatively
easy, we provide basic travel links and information below to
help you get started.
Planning. To begin, TripAdvisor (unofficial) is a well-known, usually reliable global Trip Planning and
Travel Review site. The following internet links address some of
the more commonly asked Thailand-specific questions: Airports of
Thailand | State Railway of
Thailand | Provincial
Buses (Unofficial). Also, the local Expat Forum (unofficial) is a
closely-moderated, no-cost resource across a wide range of
Regarding provincial transportation, another usually safe and reliable means is the widely available
car/mini-van service--contact your hotel for information on their
service (usually a little more expensive) or local availability. While it's also possible to hire a street taxi for the
day, doing so invites a certain measure of risk.
Lastly, as in any
culture, Thailand has its share of cultural taboos.
The largest, and also legally-protected, big
NO-NO is disparaging the Thai monarchy (aka Lese Majeste)--don't do it.
English is not widely spoken outside of
typical tourist locations, and even in tourist locations it's often hit
and miss, especially with local bus operators, songtaews (covered pick-up truck; Baht Bus) and State Railway staff (to name a
few). Visitors should speak English slowly and clearly, and
use simple words to convey your message. Further, if a taxi or
tuk-tuk driver, or "tout" tells you, "Today Palace
closed special ceremony, I take you go ______", don't fall for
it! They're paid.
Care. Medical treatment is generally adequate in Thailands
urban areas. In Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Pattaya,
good facilities exist for routine, long-term, and emergency health care. Basic medical care is available in rural areas,
but English-speaking providers are rare. ACS Bangkok: Medical
"What medical benefits are available
to me?" Short Answer: DEPENDS. Generally speaking,
100% payment is required up front (out-of-pocket) for medical
treatment received in Thailand regardless if eligible beneficiaries use TRICARE (also see TRICARE -
JUSMAGTHAI) or the VA Foreign
Medical Program (only for service-connected medical
conditions). There is no
Facility or VA Medical
Facility in Thailand. More below from the U.S. State
Issues Abroad. Healthcare tops the list
of concerns for many U.S. citizens who are thinking about moving abroad. Obtaining medical treatment and hospital care
abroad can be expensive, and medical evacuation to the U.S. can cost
more than $50,000. Note that U.S. medical insurance is generally not accepted outside the United States, nor do the Social
Security Medicare and Medicaid programs provide coverage for hospital or
medical costs outside the U.S. In many
places, doctors and hospitals still expect payment in cash at the time
of service. Your regular U.S. health insurance
may not cover doctors and hospital visits in other
Insurance Overseas. You cant assume your
insurance will go with you when you travel or relocate outside the
U.S. Its very important to find out BEFORE you leave if you will have medical insurance
overseas. You need to ask your insurance company
(or benefits agency) two questions: 1) "Does my policy apply when Im out of the
U.S.?" 2) "Will it cover
emergencies like a trip to a foreign hospital or an
evacuation?" If your policy
doesnt go with you when you travel, its a very good idea to take out
another one for your trip.
Teller Machines (ATM)
ATMs. Plentiful. Thai Banks currently charge a transaction fee of
typically 200 Baht when using a foreign bank ATM Card. The
200 Baht transaction fee is in addition to any fees imposed by your
bank. Some banks will reimburse your foreign ATM fees and foreign conversion fee (typically 3% of the exchange) OANDA Currency
• U.S. Embassy •
* We highly recommend you visit the U.S. Embassy Website, Citizens Sevices, because not only do they list their services, but under the heading Resources on that page, they list What Embassy's Can and Cannot Do.
the U.S. Embassy
1. Register with the
U.S. Embassy. The U.S. Embassy (change language to English from pull down upper right hand corner) urges all
U.S. citizens, even those visiting Thailand for a short time, to Register
with the Embassys Consular Section. Being that online
registration requires a nine-digit Passport #, if you
have an older seven-digit # that begins with an alpha character,
don't enter the alpha character but do enter two "zeroes"
before your seven-digit #. In the event
of an emergency, the Embassy will provide information and other critical
assistance to U.S. citizens. Registration is the only way to
guarantee that the Embassy is aware of your presence in the country and
is able to contact you and assist you in such circumstances. Registering also provides
delivery straight to your email inbox Emergency Messages & Announcements. Registration is fast and easy. Please take a few
moments to do so.
Services and Visa Info
Citizen Services (ACS). For complete services
visit: U.S. Embassy
Bangkok and Consulate Chiang Mai. Appointments. You must have an
appointment for non-emergency services. Appointments must be made
on-line by using the ACS Appointment System website.
U.S. citizens who come to the Embassy or Consulate for
non-emergency services, but who do not have an appointment, will not be
able to receive non-emergency services, such as routine passport
applications and renewals, additional visa pages, notary or report of
birth services at that time.
Consular Outreach. Outreach
dates are posted here. Email ACS: email@example.com
| Telephone ACS:
4. Travelers entering Thailand for purposes other than tourism need a visa.
You may want to visit the Department of State travel website: Travel.StateGov. In addition to general information for travelers, it allows for searches by destination. There is a lengthy section on Thailand, which including this paragraph:
If you are a U.S. citizen tourist staying in Thailand for fewer than 30 days, you do not require a visa to enter the country, but your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of your entry into Thailand. Thai Immigration officials may ask for your onward/return ticket, and airlines may ask for this information when you book or check in. If you are a tourist entering Thailand by air or land without a visa, you are allowed to stay in Thailand for 30 days per visit.
6. Similar information is available from on the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs website
7. Passport holders from 48 countries, including the USA, are not required to obtain a visa when entering Thailand for tourism purposes and will be permitted to stay in the Kingdom for a period of not exceeding 30 days on each visit. If such foreigners enter the Kingdom at the immigration checkpoints which border neighboring countries, they will be allowed to stay for 15 days each time (they enter). Thai MFA Chart: http://www.mfa.go.th/main/contents/files/services-20150120-100712-551809.pdf
8. If you plan to stay in Thailand for longer than 30 days per visit or if your travel is for reasons other than tourism, please contact a Royal Thai Embassy or Consulate for information about applying for the appropriate Thai visa. Thai visa categories are explained here: http://thaiembdc.org/visas/
ROYAL THAI EMBASSY AND CONSULATES-GENERAL IN THE USA
Royal Thai Embassy
2300 Kalorama Rd. N.W.
Washington, DC 20008
Royal Thai Consulates-General
351East 52nd Street,
New York, NY 10022
Phone: 212-754-1770 (Consular Section)
611 N. Larchmont Blvd., 2nd Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90004
700 North Rush Street
Chicago, IL 60611-2504
Tourist Visa Exemption: U.S. passport holders are not required to obtain a visa when entering Thailand for the purpose of tourism and will be permitted to stay in the Kingdom for a period of 30 days per visit. Foreigners who enter the Kingdom under the Tourist Visa Exemption category may re-enter and stay in Thailand for a cumulative duration of stay not to exceed 90 days within 6 months of the date of first entry. Passports must be valid for at least 6 months.
Six-month, multiple-entry tourist visas (METV) may be obtained in advance at a Royal Thai Embassy or Consulate. Holders of this type of visa may not be gainfully employed in Thailand.
9. NON-IMMIGRANT VISAS
Upon entry with a non-immigrant visa, the immigration officer at the entry point will grant a 90-day stay. This is the initial duration of stay for this type of visa. For an extension of stay beyond 90 days, travelers may submit an application at an Immigration Bureau.
A non-immigrant visa is the only type of visa that permits non-residents to be gainfully employed in Thailand. Visa application forms for this category must state reasons for employment and include a letter of certificate from the company employing the applicant. Non-immigrant visa holders who wish to be gainfully employed must also apply fora work permit. Visas may be issued in the form of a sticker or stamp in the applicant's passport. It will include type, class, issue date and expiry date.
Non-immigrant Visa-M: For the purposes of work as a film-producer, journalist or reporter
Non-immigrant Visa-B: For the purposes of attending a conference, conducting business, or working in Thailand (includes teaching)
Non-immigrant Visa-ED: For the purposes of studying, work study tours, observation tours, participating in projects or seminars, attending training courses, or studying to be a foreign Buddhist monk in Thailand
Non-immigrant Visa-O-A: For applicants ages 50+ who wish to go to Thailand for a “long stay” period of 1 year (not allowed to work in Thailand)
Non-immigrant Visa-O: For other purposes, visiting family in Thailand, pension, etc. (including volunteering)
Some Things We
Foreword. As in any professional
organization boundaries are established, limits are set, and policy is
adhered to. The following commonly brought up
topics are outside of the charter and scope of the RAO, or violate established directives or Federal law.
2. Loan or Gift
Money. The RAO is not an aid organization.
One of the many valuable skills the military taught all
of us is personal responsibility and initiative, particularly when it
comes to properly managing personal finances needed for life's daily
necessities and medical care. That being said, even
when we make the correct choices, "Life" sometimes happens to
the best of us and emergencies arise that eclipse a standard
six-month financial reserve (or higher reserve if you have large medical expenses). Very often the best course of action is to return to the U.S. where public and
private assistance is more readily available. Limited
emergency assistance is available through the U.S. State Department, U.S. Citizen Services.
3. Promote Private
Businesses. The RAO doesn't promote, support, or endorse any
specific private businesses.
Issues. We realize some of you are very passionate
about certain issues--such as having to pay DoD health care fees, or
that the VA Foreign
Medical Program *only* covers VA-rated
service-connected medical conditions. RAO
staff members acting in an official capacity are not authorized to
contact elected officials, but you most certainly may.
5. Retiree Mail &
APO Mail Boxes. RAO personnel are not
authorized to retrieve or open mail from retiree mail boxes.
Forces Network (AFN). Visit: http://myafn.dodmedia.osd.mil/.
Service & Office Supplies. The copier is
for RAO Official Use Only. There are numerous printing and office supply stores
Listings. The RAO doesn't track expat
employment opportunities (very limited) nor do we participate in
networking. U.S. Federal Jobs: FedsHireVets | OPM | USAJobs | VA Jobs.
9. National Archives Historical
Queries. The RAO does not possess unit historical information
although the local VFW 9951 has a historian. Concerning service treatment records during the Vietnam War period, hospitals in Thailand destroyed medical records five years after a patient's last visit due to the lack of available storage facilities for the immense volume of records created.
10. Your Income
Taxes. We don't order or print tax
materials, nor do your income taxes. For IRS
info, please start here.
11. Consular Appointments & Outreach Schedule. Links to U.S. State Department info is on this page here.
12. Adoption Information. Intercountry adoption is governed by both the laws of the
country in which the child lives and the country in which the adoptive
parents live. Often legally complex.
Immigration. The RAO regularly receives
requests for information concerning Thai Immigration Policy, but we
decline to answer specific questions. Thai
Immigration historically has made short-notice changes to Visa
and Entry requirements, and it's well known that their rules are not applied
uniformly between Immigration Offices and Royal Thai Embassies or
Consulates. Case-in-Point from a Royal Thai
Consulate in the U.S.: "Regulations are subject to
change without notice." "Consular officers
reserve the right to request additional documents as deemed
necessary." The U.S. Embassy (Bangkok) provides some information on Thai Visas for Americans.
• RAO Comment: The RAO recommends you direct your questions to the specific Thai immigration office, embassy, or consulate having jurisdiction over your case or geographic area. Also, the local Expat Forum (UNOFFICIAL) contains recurring information on Thai immigration, but common sense dictates how you use any information you may find there. Again, the local online expat forum is UNOFFICIAL.
Immigration. The RAO regularly receives
requests for information concerning U.S. Immigration Policy, but we
decline to answer questions. Our office has ZERO
involvement or leverage with the Visa process. We
understand your frustration--there's absolutely nothing our office can
do. Links to U.S. State Department info is on this page here.
Thank You for