Can a US Citizen Retire Abroad and Collect Social Security?

If you are a US citizen and are about to retire, then you might find it beneficial to retire overseas.

This is because many foreign countries usually offer cost of living that is more affordable compared to the US. So, living abroad after retirement could mean that you enjoy a better standard of living than that in your home country and at a fair price as well.

Whether you are a soon-to-retire employee who is moving abroad or you are an expatriate who is contemplating his/her national retirement payments, one question is bound to pop up in your mind sooner or later.

Can you collect your Social Security if you retire in a country other than the US?

Social Security may not be sufficient for you for the rest of your life. Nonetheless, it is a great source of supplemental income that can support you at a crucial time. You contributed to Social Security throughout your entire life so it is simply absurd to not reap the benefits when the time comes.

As for whether you can collect Social Security if retiring abroad, the answer is yes.

Any US citizen can collect their Social Security even if they retire abroad.

However, there are certain rules and regulations that must be met.

The pre-requisites of collecting Social Security overseas

The duration of payments towards Social Security

The first and foremost requirement for a worker to be able to collect Social Security benefits while living in a different country is that he/ she must have contributed to it for a total of at least 40 quarters (i.e. minimum 10 years).

Age limit

US citizens born before 1937 can claim Social Security once they reach the age of 65. This age ceiling gradually increases for workers born after 1937.

Employees who were born after 1960 can file for Social Security after the age of 67.

What defines living ‘abroad?’

Retiring aboard means that you do not reside in any of the states or the following regions for at least 30 days in a row:

  • District of Columbia
  • Puerto Rico
  • S. Virgin Islands
  • Guam
  • Northern Mariana Islands
  • American Samoa

Even if you visit the US or any of these areas, the duration of your stay must not exceed a month.

Region of living

As per the sanctions placed by the Treasury Department, US citizens retiring in Cuba or North Korea cannot receive payments from Social Security until they move to another country.

Also, Americans living in the following countries have to meet certain requirements to be eligible for Social Security.

  • Azerbaijan
  • Belarus
  • Kazakhstan
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Moldova
  • Tajikistan
  • Turkmenistan
  • Ukraine
  • Uzbekistan

One of the main requirements is to appear in person at the US embassy or consulate after every six months.

Claiming for Social Security outside of the age bracket

Workers can begin collecting Social Security benefits before reaching the minimum age limit. But a certain portion of their payments will be deducted each month until they reach the official retirement age.

Similarly, if someone chooses to retire later, then the benefits paid are increased each month accordingly.

It is essential to make sure that the country that you move to has a direct-deposit agreement with the US. Otherwise, the payments cannot be transferred to your account electronically.

Moreover, remember that no matter where you live, all Social Security payments will be in US dollars always.

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