Yes, you can receive your social security benefits outside the United States. If fact, you can have them deposited into your foreign bank account. So, fear of not receiving your social security benefit checks should not deter you from your expatriate living dreams and life abroad.
This concern about not receiving your social security check abroad can be alleviated it you are aware of certain stipulations. This discussion is primarily for U.S. citizens living abroad, since there are specific regulations that relate to citizens of other countries which are eligible for social security benefits because of their work history in the U.S. Three important questions for you to consider carefully before making the move follow:
1. When are you outside the United States? The Social Security Administration says you are considered outside the U.S. if you are not in one of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands or American Samoa. Once you have been out of the U.S. for at least 30 days in a row, you are considered to be outside the country until you return and stay in the U.S. for at least 30 days in a row. If you are not a U.S. citizen, you also may have to prove that you were lawfully present in the U.S. for that 30-day period.
2. How and where can I receive my Social Security benefit checks? The easiest solution is to have your benefit checks deposited into a U.S. bank and use your ATM or debit card to access your money. If you wish to have the money deposited abroad there are other considerations. Presently Social Security lists 44 countries in which you can have your benefits directly deposited to a bank in those countries. There are likewise certain countries to which by law social security benefit checks may not be sent. These can change but as of the time of my writing this, the U.S. Treasury Department forbids sending social security benefits to Cuba and North Korea. In addition, Social Security restrictions prohibit sending payments to individuals in Cambodia, Vietnam or areas that were in the former Soviet Union (other than Armenia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Russia).
3. Can I lose my benefits by living abroad? Yes, but only if you do not abide by the governmental stipulations that govern your benefits. In that sense, it is no different living abroad than living in the United States. Additionally, you may periodically be sent a questionnaire from Social Security asking for update information. If you fail to send this back in a timely fashion it could result in stoppage of your benefit payments. For the most part, retention of your benefits is no different when living abroad than when living in the U.S.
Detailed information on all regulations for both the U.S. citizen and citizens of other countries who are living abroad can be found on the Social Security Online [http://www.ssa.gov/pubs/10137.html#countries] site. Educating yourself on the complete regulations relating to receiving your Social Security benefits abroad can make your expatriate living much smoother.