It is not a secret that many of us will plan our retirement in a foreign country for a number of reasons including the cost of living in a number of such countries. Lately, a number of countries have developed a special visa just for retirees, commonly referred to as “retirement visa”. There are a number of documents which have to be presented to adhere to the requirements of such visa. This article, however, will only focus one such document, namely the Social Security Administration (SSA) Benefits and Income Verification Letter. As you might have already guessed this letter is issued by the Social Security Administration. Right now there are two types of such letter that we have seen in existence. First one is issued at your local Social Security Office. Another one is issued directly by the SSA.
The main difference between the two is who signs the Benefits and Income Verification Letter. Local one is signed by the Office Manager of the local Social Security Administration office. It is important to know that the signature of the Customer Service Representative is NOT sufficient for international use as it will be described in this article a little later. The other Benefits and Income Verification Letter is issued online by the SSA and should be signed by the acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration. Facsimile signature is OK on this one!
Benefits and Income Verification Letters issued at your local Social Security office must contain the following:
(a) Your full name
(b) Your address
(c) Your benefits information
Furthermore, such letters must have:
(d) Full name of the Office Manager of your Local SSA office clearly written or typed
(e) Live or “pen-in-hand” signature of the said SSA Office Manger
(f) Their title clearly stated as an Office Manager
TIP: If your Social Security Administration (SSA) Benefits and Income Verification Letter does not have any information indicated in points (d), (e) and (f). You need to request a new letter and specifically request that the above written information is included onto your letter.
The reason for the aforesaid requirements is that for foreign countries all Social Security Administration (SSA) Benefits and Income Verification Letters must be either apostilled or authenticated by the consulate or embassy of the target country. If this information will not be present on the document then your Benefits and Income Verification Letter will not be acceptable for apostille.
Most importantly if you will use an apostille service agency to process your apostille please be aware that the apostilled photocopies of Social Security Administration (SSA) Benefits and Income Verification Letters will be rejected in a foreign country. Most foreign authorities require the apostille for such letters to be affixed directly onto a signature of the official of the Social Security Administration. If you are being offered by a service agency to notarize the document or to make an affidavit attesting that the document is full, correct and complete original or copy thereof in your possession, do not order such services. In case of Social Security Administration (SSA) Benefits and Income Verification Letters this is a waste of time and money.
TIP: Apostille for Social Security Administration (SSA) Benefits and Income Verification Letters will always be issued by the United States Department of State. If your letter bears a State Apostille then something was done incorrectly and you risk a rejection of your application in a foreign country.