02 October 2010

Social Security, Pension and Costa Rican Residency

It's official, I've applied for my Social Security benefits and should receive my first check beginning in 2011. As part of the process, Social Security Administration found an old pension I forgot I had.

Years ago, I worked for a division of ADP that was sold off to some investors and several years after that, it was bought by the company that eventually laid me off. It turns out I had worked at ADP long enough to qualify for a pension, albeit a small pension, it is guaranteed income for life. When I talked to the HR rep at ADP, she said they tried to contact me at the old address they had on record. I have moved 4 times since I worked for ADP, and changed my last name too. Anyway, ADP is sending me a packet of information to apply for the pension. I thank Social Security for checking their records and finding this for me.

Two years ago my half Tico (Costa Rican) son, Donald, went with me to Costa Rica to get his "Cedula", the Costa Rican national identity card. Now that he has this, I can apply for unrestricted residency as the mother of a Costa Rican citizen.

After much research, and many recommendation from other expats, we have decided to use the consulting company called "Residency in Costa Rica" (RCR) to handle our residency applications and all the supporting documentation required by the Costa Rican Government. This week I mailed RCR all of the initial documentation to get the process started. This included my birth certificate and a letter of good conduct from the local police department. All of the documents have to be authenticated by the various States where they were issued, then the Costa Rica Consulate has to authenticate the States' signatures. After that the Consulates signatures get authenticated by the officials in Costa Rica. Then, all of the documents have to be officially translated into Spanish before the application is finally submitted.

When we go back to Costa Rica later this year, I will be fingerprinted and photographed. Then RCR will be ready to submit the residency application to Immigration for approval. RCR anticipates it will take from 4 to 6 months for my residency to be approved and the government to issue me my cedula (the equivalent of a "Green Card" issued to legal immigrants to the U.S). Once I'm approved, we will start the application process for John. He will be entitled to residency as my spouse.

We'll keep you posted on the process.

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