Social Security

What is the Mission of the Federal Benefits Unit (FBU)?

The Regional FBU of the American Embassy in San Jose is responsible for providing services to all the Central American countries. These include Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama.  They also service Peru in South America. We assist U.S. citizens and foreign nationals who have inquiries or receive benefits from Social Security, Railroad Retirement Board, Office of Personnel Management, and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Contact us:

The FBU operates on an appointment-only system. To schedule an appointment or to obtain information, the best way to contact the FBU is by using our online form.  Please make sure to complete all your contact information.  We normally respond to email inquiries within 15 working days.

Fax Number: 506-2291-1032

Mailing Address:

  • Costa Rica Local Mailing Address
    Attn: Federal Benefits Unit
    Embajada de los EE.UU.
    Apartado 920-1200
    Pavas, San José,
    Costa Rica
  • U.S. Mailing Address
    Attn: Federal Benefits Unit
    U.S. Embassy, San Jose
    3440 San Jose Place
    Washington, DC 20521-3470

Holiday closures:Please access the schedule of the days on which the Embassy will be closed.

What Social Security Services do we provide?

Below, please see a list of some of the services we provide on behalf of  Social Security.


You may apply for an original or replacement Social Security Card through the Regional Federal Benefits Unit.

U.S. citizens, non-citizens eligible for Social Security Benefits, and non-citizens who have permission to work from the Department of Homeland Security can apply for a Social Security number.

You can request an appointment for this service by contacting the Regional Federal Benefits Unit via our online inquiry form.

Non-Resident Aliens / Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)

Several classes of non-resident aliens are required to obtain an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) in order to file U.S. taxes. To obtain an ITIN, you must file IRS Form W-7 with the Internal Revenue Service. You may obtain a W-7 form via the Internet (Pdf- 94Kb)

The Social Security Administration has suspended the field office issuance of Social Security Earnings Statement.  However, an individual can download and complete the Form SSA-7004, Request for Social Security Statement, then print, sign, and mail it to request a statement. The form SSA-7004 can be printed from the following link: form SSA –  7004

Sample Social Security Statement (PFD – 441KB)

To learn how to earn Social Security Credits please (PDF 306 KB)reading.

If you have a U.S. address, you can download your statement immediately by visiting:

Receiving U.S. federal benefits via direct deposit is mandated by U.S. law. Social Security Beneficiaries in Costa Rica have several options for receiving benefits via direct deposit:

  1. Direct Deposit to a U.S. Bank Account – You will need to supply the U.S. account information to the Federal Benefits Unit. The best way to provide your U.S. Bank information to the Federal Benefits Unit is by fax (hyperlink to Fax #) or using our online form.
  2. Corresponding direct deposit in U.S. dollars to a Costa Rican savings account through the Bank of New York Mellon by providing one of the following banking institutions with your completed enrollment form:
    BCR –Direct Deposit Sign-up form (Pdf – 121Kb)
    Banco Nacional – Direct Deposit Sign-up form (Pdf – 34Kb)
    ScotiaBank -Direct Deposit Sign-up form (Pdf – 121Kb)
  3. International Direct Deposit through any Costa Rican Bank. You will need to complete form SSA-1199-OP-51(Pdf- 1mb) with your bank and return it to the Federal Benefits Unit via fax and/or mail. Note: If you fax or mail documents to our unit please make sure to include your name, claim number, e-mail address, and two telephone numbers where we can reach you.
  4. Direct Express –


If you receive Social Security benefits and moved outside of the United States, you should report your new mailing address to the Regional Federal Benefits Unit.

Please note that the mailing address you provide should be a foreign address. You should not provide the Social Security Administration with the Miami address provided to you by your private mail courier, since this could cause temporary suspension of your benefits when the SSA learns that you are living outside of the United States.

The best way to notify the Regional Federal Benefits Unit of your new address is by using our online form.

You can remove Medicare Part B by completing form CMS-1763 (Pdf – 67Kb) and returning it via fax or mail to the Federal Benefits Unit. Note: If you fax or mail documents to our unit, please make sure to include your name, claim number, e-mail address, and two telephone numbers where we can reach you.

Applicants residing outside the United States may apply for Retirement, Medicare Only, or Auxiliary Spouse benefits online or for Disability benefits.

For an overview of the information the Social Security Administration Requests on the internet application, please visit the following link.

If you do not meet the above category of beneficiary, you can request an appointment via our online form.

Please click on the following links for additional information.

Please note that Medicare does not provide any coverage for medical or hospital services outside of the United States.  

You can apply for Medicare Only online at the following link: How To Apply Online For Just Medicare

For official information on Medicare coverage outside the U.S., please review the pamphlet Medicare Coverage Outside the U.S. at: Medicare Coverage Outside the United States (PDF 206 KB)

For additional information on Medicare, please visit the following link: Social Security Medicare (PDF 405 KB)

If you already receive Social Security benefits and want to enroll in Medicare Part B, you can do so by completing form CMS-40 (Pdf – 71Kb) and returning it to the regional Federal Benefits Unit via mail or fax.

In addition to relying on beneficiaries (a retired person or family member) to report events that may affect their benefits, SSA contacts beneficiaries outside the United States annually or biennially (every two years) to verify their current status if they have a foreign address on record.

In 2023, SSA mailed the questionnaire to beneficiaries receiving their own benefits whose social security number under which they receive benefits ended in 50-99, beneficiaries over the age of 90, those that were scheduled to receive a form but did not respond in 2023 and to beneficiaries who have representative payees (person receiving benefits on behalf of a minor or other person). Beneficiaries receive the form in the mail with a return envelope to the SSA processing facility in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.

SSA sent a follow-up notice in October 2023 Failure to return the completed questionnaire by December 2023 will result in a suspension of benefits effective with the payment date on February 3, 2024

You can download the forms here: SSA-7161 (PDF -74kb) or SSA-7162 (PDF – 59kb), and mail the original directly to Wilkes-Barre, PA.

Where to mail your questionnaire:

Form SSA-7161 mail to:
Social Security Administration
P.O. Box 7161
Wilkes Barre, PA 18767-7161

Form SSA-7162 mail to:
Social Security Administration
P.O. Box 7162
Wilkes Barre, PA 18767-7162

Certain non-U.S. Citizens can receive Social Security regular monthly benefit payments after residing lawfully in the United States of America for one full calendar month. They are required to live in the U.S. for one month each time they are outside of the U.S. for six full consecutive months and wish to receive payments.

This requirement applies to beneficiaries eligible to receive a payment but who:

Are not a U.S. citizen, or

  • Were not initially eligible for monthly benefits before January 1, 1985, or
  • Have not resided in the U.S. for at least five years with the worker (number holder).

You must report completing your full-calendar month to receive payment.

Where do you report your visit?

We strongly encourage you to report your visit at a local Social Security Office while in the U.S (almost towards the end of your visit) to avoid interruption of your benefit payments. To locate your nearest social security office call 800-772-1213 or visit

Visit here to learn what you must include in your report:

Note: Make sure to keep a copy of the documents you provided for your own records.

Things you need to know before you Travel


The Federal Benefits Unit should be notified as soon as possible when a person dies. You can report the death of a beneficiary by using our online form: Certification of the death of a social security beneficiary.

We use your total yearly earnings to figure your Social Security credits. The amount needed to earn one credit increases automatically each year when average wages increase.

You must earn a certain number of credits to qualify for Social Security benefits. The number of credits you need depends on your age when you apply and the type of benefit application. No one needs more than 40 credits for any Social Security benefit. During your lifetime, you probably will earn more credits than the minimum number you need to be eligible for benefits. These extra credits do not increase your benefit amount. Your average earnings over your working years determine how much your monthly payment will be.

For more information, you can read the ”How you earn credits.” (Pdf- 302Kb)

U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad may need to file and pay taxes to earn Social Security Credits from their work. If you are not a U.S. Citizen or Resident Alien then you do not qualify to pay Social Security credits while living abroad. To check the filing requirement to earn Social Security credits as a .S. Citizens or US Resident Alien abroad please visit the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) webpage to complete the proper IRS Tax Form depending on your situation.

Important information on where, when and how to file if you are living abroad may be found at the IRS web page.

For detailed information on Foreign Electronic Payments to the IRS.

Further Inquiries or concerns regarding U.S. Taxes should be directed to the IRS or a private U.S. tax preparation agent.

Until now, you needed a U.S. mailing address to access Social Security’s free my Social Security account and use their online services. Now, many people without a U.S. mailing address can create a personal my Social Security account and use the online services with an credential.  If you don’t already have an credential:

  1. Go to
  2. On the my Social Security page, select the “Create an Account” button and then select “Sign in with”
  3. Select the “Create an account” link and follow the instructions.
  4. On’s “Verify Your Identity” screen, select the “I don’t live in the United States” link at the bottom of the page and follow the instructions to complete the registration process.
  5. Once you create your credential, you will be returned to the my Social Security webpage for next steps.

If you already have an credential, select “Sign In” from the my Social Security page and then sign in to You will be redirected to your my Social Security account.

Note: if you had a my Social Security account prior to moving overseas, you will need to create an credential to use it from an international address.

Once you have created your personal my Social Security account, you will be able to:

  • Check your earnings.
  • Get your benefit estimates.
  • Check the status of your application or appeal.
  • View, print, or save a benefit verification letter (Social Security is unable to mail to a foreign address).
  • Change Special Notice Options (SNO Notices).
  • Access some representative payee services.
  • View, print, or save a replacement SSA-1099/1042S tax statement (Social Security is unable to mail replacement statements to a foreign address).
  • Access online notices.
  • Request a replacement Medicare Card.

Some services are not available outside of the United States:

  • Changing your address.
  • Changing your direct deposit.
  • Requesting a replacement Social Security card.

Others Federal Benefits Services
office of personnel management

Telephone Number: (202) 606-0500
E-mail address:
Mailing address:
U.S. Office of Personnel Management
Retirement Operations Center
PO. Box 45
Boyers, PA 16017

OPM Publications of Interest

Logo of The Department of Labor

The Department of Labor website offers information on benefits programs such as the Family and Medical Leave Act and workers’ compensation programs, (Black Lung, FECA, Longshore).

DOL – Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs

The Division of Federal Employees’ Compensation adjudicates new claims for benefits and manages ongoing cases; pays medical expenses and compensation benefits to injured workers and survivors; and helps injured employees return to work when they are medically able to do so

The Railroad Retirement Board (RRB)

The Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) administers comprehensive retirement-survivor and unemployment-sickness benefit programs for the nation’s railroad workers and their families. The RRB also administers certain Social Security benefit payments and railroad workers’ Medicare coverage.