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BANGKOK 17 December 2018 12:12


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  1. I would recommend that for those who are not currently receiving their SS payment in ACH "IAT" format that they do as the 1 Oct 18 Bangkok Bank memorandum (below) and their website recommends which is to contract the SSA to get you payment changed to IAT format. Recommend you attach the Bangkok Bank letter and include a cover letter that stresses "change my payment to IAT format, change to IAT format." But only do this if you have confirmed with Bangkok Bank your specific payment is not being received in IAT format. No need to do it if you have confirmed your specific payment is being received in IAT format. And if the Bangkok Bank rep you talk to starts off by saying "almost all, most" SSA payments are received in IAT format, well, say that's all good & fine but what about "my specific SSA payment?" Have them look it up because a lot of SSA payments are not being sent in IAT format....like a family member of mine....it's being sent in PPD format which will be rejected by Bangkok Bank starting Apr 19. Contact the POC(s) on the Bangkok Bank letter if your local Bangkok Bank branch seem clueless on the issue. The primary POC on the Bangkok Bank letter works on the second floor of the HQ Bangkok Bank building on Silom Rd in Bangkok....the first floor of that building is probably what is consider the main, largest Bangkok Bank branch in Thailand. Below are the SSA addresses to write to....and IMO I would "not" write to Manila as I've they seem somewhat clueless to not-to-interested on the subject and would still probably have to forward your request to the Baltimore Office of Int'l Ops. Manila is probably banking on the IDD to cure the issue...which it will. But the cure appears it will come with side effects. Some side effects that are similar and also new to the current ACH Direct Deposit method. Guess it's kinda like choosing between two different medications for the same ailment....each medication works but comes with some some different "and" some similar side effects. Personally between the two I would prefer the current ACH account method since a person can withdraw/deposit at "any" Bangkok Bank branch, no minimum monthly balance required, fewer/simpler fee structure, and it's covered by the Thailand deposit protection program. Both a FCD account and current ACH Direct Deposit account do not come with an ATM card. With a FCD account you can only physically withdraw/deposit at the specific branch that has you account but with a ACH Direct Deposit account you can physically withdraw/deposit from "any" Bangkok Bank branch. A FCD has a high opening deposit requirement ($1000 or more depending on bank)...Bangkok Bank gives you 30 days to deposit that $1000 amount....don't know about other banks. An ACH Direct Deposit account only has a Bt500 opening deposit requirement and does not have a minimum monthly balance requirement to avoid a fee. A FCD has a minimum monthly balance ($250 for Bangkok Bank) otherwise a monthly maintenance fee is applied ($10 for a Bangkok Bank FCD). And there are other fees associated with a FCD account depending on how you withdraw, but if you just do a transfer from the FCD to your Thai baht account there is no fee. And a BIGGIE a FCD is "not" covered by the Thailand Deposit Protection Agency program...Thai baht accounts such as the current ACH Direct Deposit savings account are covered. So if going with a FCD you money is uninsured...maybe best to use it as a flow-thru account....received the money to the FCD and then immediately transfer it to your regular Thai bank account which can have an ATM card, basically no restrictions. Like most things, pros and cons, positive and negative exist with various types of bank accounts in Thailand (or any country). Keep in mind that Manila is like a local SS office in your home town....while they can process applications and a variety of changes the applications/changes still need to be finalized/approved at the Baltimore office.
  2. This post has talks minimum balances for Bangkok Bank and K-bank...with weblinks to their FCD products.
  3. A specific forum rule applies to the Bangkok Post and Phuketwan....apparently these two newspapers DO NOT want their articles quoted/referenced/linked without expressed permission. https://www.thaivisa.com/forum/terms/
  4. It's a poorly written article. In one paragraph they talk about using the LINE app to contact immigration. And then in following paragraph they are apparently talking about a different online/software system to apply for visas online and give their addresses.
  5. All I can say is per Para D of the SSA Thailand instruction it says the payment must go to a "USD account"....or what Thai banks call a Foreign Currency Deposit (FCD) account which is for incoming foreign currency...."not converted to baht" upon receipt...goes into the FCD account as the foreign currency. And that is stressed in the step-by-step entry instructions posted above. Additionally, Thai FCD accounts have different rules/fee schedule that a regular Thai baht account. One rule is apparently no ATM card are associated with FCD accounts, must deposit/withdraw at "only" the branch that has your FCD account (but you can transfer from the FCD to your Thai baht account via internet), a minimum monthly balance apply otherwise a monthly maintenance fee applies, some healthy minimum opening balances apply, etc. A Thai FCD is no panacea. https://secure.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0202402419
  6. Durn....you are right....read it too fast. When it comes to transfer funds to America, the OP is probably not going to have a choice when he goes to a Thai bank unless he has his money in a Foreign Currency Deposit (FCD) account. He probably will not have a choice because he will need to use baht to buy US dollars using the Thai bank's TT Selling Rate. That way, the baht does not leave Thailand (Bank of Thailand don't like baht leaving Thailand) and US dollars are transferred. But if he did transfer baht to the US his US bank would give him a crappy exchange rate for baht because baht is a minor currency (only used in Thailand and little bit in surrounding countries) compared to a major currency like US dollars which can be used most anywhere in the world.
  7. Transfer dollars because you get a better exchange rate (several percent) at the receiving Thai bank than what your sending US bank will give you. Your US sending financial institution may use vague language enticing your to let them accomplish the exchange on their end.....and/or even offer a lower sending fee if allowing them to accomplish the exchange but you'll get burnt on their lower exchange rate rate which is basically an indirect/hidden fee. Send dollars.
  8. Below quote is how the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS), which makes military retirement benefit payments, briefly describe how countries are chosen for IDD. Each US govt benefit payment agency (i.e., SSA, DFAS, VA, OPM, etc.) makes it's own evaluation and decision as to which countries get on its IDD list. https://www.dfas.mil/retiredmilitary/manage/idd.html Like the DFAS IDD list does "not" include Thailand and only has about half as many countries on it's IDD list as the SSA IDD list. I asked DFAS about 4 months ago if Thailand was being considered and they said "No, not at this time." I asked the US Embassy Bangkok about a month ago if they were working with DFAS to get Thailand added to the DFAS IDD list like the embassy supposedly worked with SSA to get Thailand added to the SSA IDD list....but I never got an answer....just crickets. But it also requires countries/banks in those countries signing an agreement to support IDD. So, in some cases a benefit paying agency may have no problem adding a country to it's IDD list, but no banks in the country want to participate. Another factor is how many beneficiaries are in a country for that pension paying agency. Lots of military retirees living in Thailand, but as mentioned Thailand is not on the DFAS IDD list. Plus the the SSA does have at least one (hopefully more) participating Thai bank, so I wonder why DFAS can't do the same. Maybe the SSA adding Thailand to it's IDD list will push DFAS into doing the same...time will tell....but come Apr 19 for those military retirees having their military pension sent to Bangkok Bank are going to be saying, "where's my payment...it didn't show up" because to the best of my knowledge DFAS is not using IAT format for any payments. But maybe someone has asked Bangkok Bank to check their specific benefit payment to determine if it arriving in IAT format...or the PPD format which will be rejected effective Apr 19. Yeap, each US govt benefit payment agency has it's own IDD policy and list of approved countries.
  9. SSA has been adding more and more countries to their IDD list. Vietnam in Aug 18;....Thailand in Nov 18 (although not active yet) plus others in Nov 18;...Philippines in Feb 18;....Algeria, Macro, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Sengel in Dec 18, etc...etc...etc. More the better. Some of this is probably driven by the US Treasury/National ACH Assn (NACHA) tightening-up on funds transfers that actually leave the US like current payment to Bangkok Bank via ACH. In other cases, it simply the SSA expanding the countries it feels it safe to send funds to and their are no U.S. polices/laws restricting funds flows to those countries. At this movement in time below weblink will show IDD countries as of "Nov" 18. Expect come Jan 19 when clicking it, it will also show those countries which were added in December. The list continues to grow. https://www.ssa.gov/deposit/foreign.htm When you look at the instructions for the various countries you will see usually in Paragraph D what currency must be used for payment. Many countries it's only their local currency....many countries it's only US dollars...and for a few it can be in local or US dollar currency. In Thailand's case the Thailand payment must be to a US dollar account. Have no clue what SSA will only pay in US dollars to some countries and only in local currency for others. And actually it's not SSA that makes the actual payment. SSA sends payment instructions to the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City who makes the payment on behalf of the US Treasury/SSA.
  10. When IDD does become available in the first quarter of 2019, keep in mind you will need to have your Thailand address on-file with the SSA. I expect some have their SS payment going to Bangkok Bank via ACH, however, have kept their U.S. address on-file with the SSA. A US address on-file when using ACH for your payment is no problem; however, for IDD you must have your foreign address on file with SSA. This also means you'll get an annual/biennual (depends on foreign country.....for Thailand its annual) "are you still alive letter." See below SSA instruction regarding IDD for Thailand....MBR means Master Benefit Record. Full instructions at SSA weblink....partial snapshot also below. https://secure.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0202402419
  11. Pib

    SSD - Cost effective upgrade

    Regarding extra RAM, whenever I upgrade RAM on a machine like where I'm adding a RAM module(s) I do my absolute best to get the exact same manufacturer/model of RAM as currently installed. Although numerous manufacturers make RAM for computers I want to make sure the additional RAM module(s) is a twin of the module(s) already in the computer as I want to minimize the possibility of different manufacturers' RAM modules not getting along all the time...giving me that occasional BSOD.
  12. Pib

    SSD - Cost effective upgrade

    Yep, the 4 SSDs I've put in my 4 laptops over the last 5 years made a very significant improvement in computer responsiveness/speed such as boot time and for many (not all) software programs. Biggest improvement was seen on the lower power CPU machines. These were machines running Win 10, 8, and 7. When I took two of the machines from 4GB to 8GB RAM I didn't really see any responsiveness/speed improvement for the basic software I use....4GB RAM was enough as around 3GB RAM was all the machine was ever using when monitoring with Task Manager. But I'm still glad I went to 8GB to have that extra RAM just in case. Once I went to 8GB the machines started using around 3 to 3.5GB RAM according to Task Manager leaving over 4GB as reserve. For the basic user having LOTS of RAM is really overhyped....4 to 8GB is more than fine for the great majority of users except maybe if you are a big gamer.
  13. I have a 5 year old Lenovo i7 laptop and a 3 year old Lenovo i5 laptop. Both worked fine with 1803 and so far on 1809 which I upgraded them to yesterday So far the only release of Win 10 neither of them liked was the 1709 version, repeat 1709, from a year ago. Both developed Restart problems about a month after upgrading to 1709 where on some "Restarts" I would get a BSOD. I reset both which is basically a reinstall of 1709 and then they worked fine. Both worked fine on 1803 and so far both are working fine on 1809.