Social Security: Can I Still Collect Benefits If I Retire Abroad?

Mature couple exploring Belgrade in Serbia.
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If you’re eligible to receive Social Security benefits, you may receive your payments outside of the U.S. However, the Social Security Administration has noted that there are countries to which they are not permitted to send payments, as well as other pertinent restrictions.

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“Outside of the United States” is classified as not residing 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 for at least 30 days in a row. If you aren’t a U.S. citizen, you will be required to prove that you were in the U.S. for that 30-day period.

Payments will stop after you have been outside the U.S. for six full calendar months if you are not a U.S. citizen. Payments will not resume until you return to the U.S. for at least one full calendar month.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury prohibits making payments to anyone residing in Cuba or North Korea. Under the Social Security Act, you are not eligible to receive Social Security benefits for the months that you lived in Cuba or North Korea if you are not a U.S. citizen, even if you meet all other requirements.

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Additional Treasury Department sanctions could affect payments to those in other countries.

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Payments are not typically sent to those residing in Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. However, exceptions may be made. To qualify for an exception, you must meet and agree to restricted payment conditions.

If you don’t qualify for an exception, then payments will be withheld until you leave the above-mentioned country and proceed to a country where payments are accepted for the allotted period of time.

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About the Author

Josephine Nesbit is a freelance writer specializing in real estate and personal finance. She grew up in New England but is now based out of Ohio where she attended The Ohio State University and lives with her two toddlers and fiancé. Her work has appeared in print and online publications such as Fox Business and Scotsman Guide.
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