How to Receive Social Security Benefits Abroad

If you are a citizen of the USA, you may still be able to receive your Social Security benefits if you move out of the country. Rules vary from one place to another, and if you move to some countries then it is unlikely that you will be able to claim these benefits, but most US citizens who go abroad will find that it is still possible to get your Social Security payments.

If you have experienced financial problems or difficulties then this can be a big relief. If you are spending time in a country where the cost of living is much lower than in the US, you might even be able to save money monthly and live on a smaller sum of money. 

Social Security money is vitally important for a lot of people. You might have SSI payday loans and rely on the income from this, or need the money for your day-to-day living.

Where Can I Still Get Social Security Benefits?

You can get checks sent to you if you move from the US to live abroad, and you should be able to easily cash these checks through an online banking app or through a bank in the country you are residing within.

However, there are countries where the SSA (Social Security Administration) can’t send checks at the moment. If you go to Cuba or North Korea, checks won’t make it to you. 

Similarly, most of the time checks aren’t sent to former Soviet Union areas such as Ukraine. Likewise, Cambodia and Vietnam have close security checks that don’t tend to allow checks to be received. 

If you live in one of these places or plan to spend a lot of time there, not all hope is lost. You can apply for some help, specifically from the US embassy. The SSA might agree to send your checks to their US embassy overseas and you can pick it up in person.

Keeping the SSA Informed

To check your continued eligibility, you will be asked to send questionnaires periodically. These come directly from the SSA. 

The sort of questions will relate to your work, if you have got married or if there have been any other changes in your personal circumstances or where you live. 

You need to keep the SSA informed of all the information within the questionnaire, so it is vital that you fill in the questionnaires. If not, your eligibility to receive your Social Security money might expire. 

Some SSI Benefits Are Not Allowed

Supplemental Security Income might not be allowed if you move abroad for more than 30 days. Fortunately, these will start again when you are back in the country for a month once again. 

This rule doesn’t apply to everyone, for example, if you are a military retiree or on active service, or for students who are living abroad for their studies.

It’s natural that not every benefit continues if you move abroad, and the US government may not want to pay out the same level of benefits.

Paying Taxes

If you decide to spend a prolonged period of time abroad or even return out of the country there is still an obligation to file your tax return each year. If you have income in the US or own property then this is even more vital. Things can get complex, and getting an accountant is usually a good idea. 

It’s important that you report any banking you do outside the US. Plus, if you move somewhere permanently you might still have to pay certain taxes in the country where you are living. 

There are some countries where America has negotiated “tax treaties” which could mean you’re exempt from paying tax in that country or at least pay at a much lower rate. 

Taxes are inevitable. It is possible that your income and 85% of Social Security benefits could be taken away as tax. This is a huge figure! 

If you’re looking to move to another country and still want to rely on your US income, it is very important that you do a lot of research before moving, or seek advice from the SSI and a specialist accountant.

Moving Abroad – A Financial Challenge

It’s not easy to live in another country and keep your finances exactly the same. As well as the research you need to do on taxes, there are lots of other financial issues you can run into if you aren’t careful. For instance, if you keep using a US credit or debit card for transactions abroad, you might be charged large fees on this. 

Luckily, the US still supports citizens abroad, and as you are paying taxes, it is only fair that you can still receive some Social Security Benefits if you spend time out of the country.


Written by George K.

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