Sunday, July 19, 2015

Challenges in Maintaining a US bank Account

In the beginning of last year, we were surprised with the increase in remittance rates charged by the US bank - about $80. Now for a couple receiving only a small amount of money in monthly pension, $80 a month is a big thing. Based on my estimate, I might as well buy a plane ticket for the cost of a yearly remittance sent every month. In our case, we retained the US bank account, precisely for the possibility of going to America, and re-establishing residency, but the cost is such that we are starting to re-evaluate the process.

Now, with my salary and his $1,200, it would be seem that a monthly reduction of $80 would not be so much, but 1) we have a child to support; 2) two senior citizens (my husband and my mother) who both go ill once in awhile and require either medication or hospitalization, and 3) we live in expensive Metro Manila.

With the increasing cost of living, I had to be more creative.  So while we were at the U.S. Embassy working on my son's CRBA and U.S. Passport, the consul reminded us to report the birth of my son to the U.S. social security.  I began to think of the possibility of my son receiving US social security benefit, being then a full-fledged American citizen.  After all, he does not require residency to receive social security since he is a US citizen.  And I learned on the internet, that if the principal member is either retired or disabled, the dependents who are US citizens can receive benefits.

So we filed together, and the account was opened under my name as my son's principal guardian.  It turned out that he was entitled to $787 and that since we only filed last October, and he has been a US citizen for about a year or so, we received back pay.  (A word of note.  The background investigation took almost a half year.  So don't rely on the benefit, until it is actually granted.  If your son/daughter doesn't qualify for CRBA, he/she most likely won't qualify for SS benefit.)

So it pays to do research and to always think of possibilities.  Never rely on other people for answers, find it yourself.

Now we are doing fine.  Although I am still contemplating having my husband's social security directly deposited into a Philippine bank.  US banks are ripping us off in remittances! $80 a month is still too much, if it can still be avoided.  I plan to do some more creative planning to keep the US bank funded even while my husband's US social security is directly deposited here in the Philippines.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

What is Best for My Son

I ask about that constantly now.  I have only two years to go before I become fully vested in government service.  By then, I could choose to receive retirement from then Philippine private social security or its government equivalent.  Either way, I am set and comfortable.  After all, I have worked for more than twenty years now - eight in the private sector and thirteen in the government sector.  For all intents and purposes, HERE, the Philippines is my comfort zone.

But I constantly wonder what is best for my son. Is my staying here foreclosing his chances for a better life? Is the USA really the land of plenty? Or  am I just romanticizing something I do not even know?

If I choose to stay here, how will it affect my husband's access to effective health care? He doesn't qualify for a health plan over here because of his age.  I, and my son, on the other hand, are covered by a private health plan I got for both of us. 

Since I got my son social security coverage (about $700); with that, my husband's social security benefit and my salary, we live a fairly decent life.  I think we can send my son to a good school over here.  There, on the other hand, it's a big question if we could afford a good school, since I would be starting all over again.

Certainly if we do move, I will guarantee this - I will have an exit plan.  Because I have more to lose in leaving than I would in staying.

How about you,  what do you think is best for my son?