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I signed up for file-and-suspend, but they didn't suspend
Old 10-23-2013, 11:04 AM   #1
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I signed up for file-and-suspend, but they didn't suspend

When I was home on leave recently, following my FRA, I tried to file-and-suspend on-line, like we are supposed to. I had some difficulty, because file-and-suspend does not seem to be a simple choice on-line. I tried it though.

I then went to the SS office to make sure everything was OK and they told me to check on-line for my status. They said, give us your local phone over there and 'the overseas department will call you'. They never did. Now that I am half-way around the world, I discover that they want my payments to start in Nov. I do not want them to.

I called WA DC ("The average wait time is one hour and fifteen minutes"--thank God of Skype! They got to me in only 20 minutes, though. Elevator music like an 8-track tape that had been playing continuously since 1963.). They told me that I had to file a Form SSA-795 by mail, fax or in person...in the US embassy in Athens. That is Greece, not GA. The Athens station is on the SS web site. The need for a SSA-795 was news to me. The very nice lady helped me with the wording to use.

Called Athens (open 3 days a week from 8:30 to 12:30 only). ("The average wait time is 15 minutes"--mine was 45 minutes. The elevator music was much better than DC's, however.) After having to explain file-and-suspend to a somewhat confused agent whose first language was not English, eager to help but not very knowledgeable, he tells me I may be able to scan and e-mail it to them, but maybe that won't be acceptable and I will have to go the the US embassy in Baku, give it to them and THEY will send it on. You have to make an appointment at this embassy.

Scanned and e-mailed the Form SSA-795 today. Will keep checking every day my e-mails and my account. They never get back to me, so it is up to me to find out.

I have discovered that there is an add-on 3rd-party package for Skype that makes it possible to fax things. I learned last year that many government agencies will not accept scanned and e-mailed forms, only faxed forms. I better do that.

If I want this to work, will I have to pay back any payments? Not a financial problem, but it would be another bureaucratic maze to navigate. I will try to deal with DC from now on. I think I have a better chance (but not 100%) of getting accurate direction there. I think the current rule is that I have a year to 'do it over'. Not looking forward to this.

Cheers from Baku
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Old 10-23-2013, 11:09 AM   #2
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A friend of mine filed for Medicare as he turned 65. I did not know about the paperwork, but he said he never did specify nor request anything about SS, which he did not want. He wanted to wait till 66, his FRA age.

He received an SS monthly check! It took a call to SSA office in DC to straighten it out. The ineptitude of some workers was incredible, and he was ranting to me for a while.
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Old 10-23-2013, 11:56 AM   #3
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I have discovered that there is an add-on 3rd-party package for Skype that makes it possible to fax things.

I don't know the answer to your question. I am interested in the package that lets you fax things through Skype. Where did you get it?
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Old 10-23-2013, 01:05 PM   #4
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Fax?? What next, Pony Express?
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Old 10-23-2013, 02:06 PM   #5
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The ineptitude of some workers was incredible, and he was ranting to me for a while.
You're surprised? What's the accountability in government?
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Old 10-23-2013, 02:40 PM   #6
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So, how do we trust them to run the country's defense, and now our healthcare?

Should we revert to anarchy?
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Old 10-23-2013, 03:08 PM   #7
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We have a couple of banks we do business with at work that won't accept an emailed attachment of a signed document. Little do they know that I scan the document, email it to myself and then use the company's email fax server to "fax" it to them.
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Old 10-23-2013, 06:16 PM   #8
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So, how do we trust them to run the country's defense, and now our healthcare?

Should we revert to anarchy?
Yes, I am sure that you have named the only two possibilities, the government running things or anarchy. Thank you for this clarity.

Ha
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Old 10-23-2013, 06:21 PM   #9
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I did not mean there would be only 2 possibilities.

Rather, the earlier poster's implication was that government is by definition not accountable. The only good government is a ... OK, let's not go there.

If we cannot devise any way to make it better, then yes, there would be only 2 possibilities.
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Old 10-23-2013, 06:25 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Ed_The_Gypsy View Post
When I was home on leave recently, following my FRA, I tried to file-and-suspend on-line, like we are supposed to. I had some difficulty, because file-and-suspend does not seem to be a simple choice on-line. I tried it though.

I then went to the SS office to make sure everything was OK and they told me to check on-line for my status. They said, give us your local phone over there and 'the overseas department will call you'. They never did. Now that I am half-way around the world, I discover that they want my payments to start in Nov. I do not want them to.

I called WA DC ("The average wait time is one hour and fifteen minutes"--thank God of Skype! They got to me in only 20 minutes, though. Elevator music like an 8-track tape that had been playing continuously since 1963.). They told me that I had to file a Form SSA-795 by mail, fax or in person...in the US embassy in Athens. That is Greece, not GA. The Athens station is on the SS web site. The need for a SSA-795 was news to me. The very nice lady helped me with the wording to use.

Called Athens (open 3 days a week from 8:30 to 12:30 only). ("The average wait time is 15 minutes"--mine was 45 minutes. The elevator music was much better than DC's, however.) After having to explain file-and-suspend to a somewhat confused agent whose first language was not English, eager to help but not very knowledgeable, he tells me I may be able to scan and e-mail it to them, but maybe that won't be acceptable and I will have to go the the US embassy in Baku, give it to them and THEY will send it on. You have to make an appointment at this embassy.

Scanned and e-mailed the Form SSA-795 today. Will keep checking every day my e-mails and my account. They never get back to me, so it is up to me to find out.

I have discovered that there is an add-on 3rd-party package for Skype that makes it possible to fax things. I learned last year that many government agencies will not accept scanned and e-mailed forms, only faxed forms. I better do that.

If I want this to work, will I have to pay back any payments? Not a financial problem, but it would be another bureaucratic maze to navigate. I will try to deal with DC from now on. I think I have a better chance (but not 100%) of getting accurate direction there. I think the current rule is that I have a year to 'do it over'. Not looking forward to this.

Cheers from Baku
Didn't you recently post that you are nearing your 70th birthday? If so, I would recommend that you forget perfection and let these people alone. They would likely eventually get it right, but my experience tells me that it may well be more trouble than it is worth.

My case was handled through local agents, but an office in Birmingham seemed to be in charge, and among other difficulties, I got a total of five conflicting 1099-SSAs before they believed what I had told them almost a year earlier and got it right.

I shudder to think of your chances when dealing through Athens or Baku!

Ha
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Old 10-23-2013, 06:29 PM   #11
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Fax?? What next, Pony Express?
We found out about faxing stuff dealing with FIL's fiances after he went into nursing care. I hadn't sent a fax for 10 or 15 years but remembered our laser printer has a scan/fax capability. Rooted around in my junk wire box and found a telephone cord for it, read the manual, and it worked!

It is surprising how many places won't accept scanned/e-mailed documents but will accept faxes. Go figure. I was tempted to ask if they accepted carrier pigeon but was able to restrain myself.
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Old 10-23-2013, 06:31 PM   #12
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I did not mean there would be only 2 possibilities.

Rather, the earlier poster's implication was that government is by default not accountable.

If we cannot devise any way to make it better, then yes, there would be only 2 possibilities.
Well, we've been at it over 200 years and it seems to be getting worse, not better. And I firmly disagree that the only alternative to government control is anarchy. The things the government has a complete monopoly on are disasters-for starters, border control, foreign relations including winning wars that we start and not starting wars that we lack the means or will to see through to victory, creating a sustainable budget, etc.

Ha
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Old 10-23-2013, 06:32 PM   #13
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My friend who had problems that I described earlier had a sister who retired from SSA.

His sister said that the pressure was for the agents to process so many claims per day and their merit was based on volumes, not by accuracy which was not checked. FWIW.

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... The things the government has a complete monopoly on are disasters-for starters, border control, foreign relations including winning wars that we start and not starting wars that we lack the means or will to see through to vistory, creating a sustainable budget, etc.
Ha
And now that we have SS and healthcare being the law of the land, let's make them do it right. Let's put accountability into it! Do we just give up and say that it is the "nature" of the gummint to mess up, and for us to suck it up?
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Old 10-23-2013, 08:17 PM   #14
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Didn't you recently post that you are nearing your 70th birthday? If so, I would recommend that you forget perfection and let these people alone. They would likely eventually get it right, but my experience tells me that it may well be more trouble than it is worth.

My case was handled through local agents, but an office in Birmingham seemed to be in charge, and among other difficulties, I got a total of five conflicting 1099-SSAs before they believed what I had told them almost a year earlier and got it right.

I shudder to think of your chances when dealing through Athens or Baku!

Ha
66 is close to 70.

I am pretty sure that this will have to be sorted out at the local office in Dec when I go home on leave.

I am shuddering, too.
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Old 10-23-2013, 08:25 PM   #15
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I don't know the answer to your question. I am interested in the package that lets you fax things through Skype. Where did you get it?
It is PamFax: Send and receive faxes easily with the PamFax fax software solution. Free to sign up, includes three free pages. Worldwide sending and recieving. Skype supported. If I can't get it done through my office, I will use this.

There are other ways, too:

3 Ways to Fax Without Using a Fax Machine - wikiHow
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Old 10-23-2013, 09:56 PM   #16
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Mr. Gypsy,

Your request should go through the US Embassy in Baku for privacy act issues. The Embassy in Baku will send your request to US Embassy in Athens.

Sincerely yours,

American Embassy/ FBU
101 60 Athens, Greece
Let's see...the federal government wants to protect my privacy? Kafka, anyone?
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Old 10-23-2013, 11:28 PM   #17
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66 is close to 70.

I am pretty sure that this will have to be sorted out at the local office in Dec when I go home on leave.

I am shuddering, too.
No, I just remembered wrong. It is definitely worth straightening this out. 4 years is a big deal.

Ha
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Old 10-24-2013, 07:43 PM   #18
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It is surprising how many places won't accept scanned/e-mailed documents but will accept faxes. Go figure. I was tempted to ask if they accepted carrier pigeon but was able to restrain myself.
Fax is considered to be more secure and reliable than email, which is why it's favored for certain financial and medical documents that contain personal information. Of course this assumes the incoming fax doesn't sit on the fax machine in an open office for anyone to read.

I have not heard that the NSA is snooping on faxes, so maybe they have a point.
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Old 10-25-2013, 02:49 AM   #19
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So I went to the US embassy here in Baku this morning. It is old and beat-up.

There are no Americans in the American embassy, only Azerbaijanis.

I assume that after Bengazi we replaced everyone with nationals so in case of attack, no Americans will be killed.

The guy took my papers, read them (?), then said, So I want to take my benefits in Azebaijan? Not on your life, actually. Fortunately, the request will be processed in Athens. Maybe someone will actually read it.
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Old 10-25-2013, 06:22 AM   #20
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Having known folks who passed through that embassy on the rally, once again you have my sympathies, Ed. And I agree that sorting it out at home on your leave would be far better!
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