How Long Can You Live Outside the US Before Losing Social Security?

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How Long You Can Live Outside the US Before Losing Social Security

Many Americans nowadays plan to retire overseas; some do it to live peacefully, while some do it to save on costs, ranging from housing to food costs. However, one question that crosses the mind of many people planning to retire abroad is whether they will receive Social Security or not, or how long they can live overseas without losing their Social Security. This article will try to answer all such questions, including how long you can live outside the U.S. before losing Social Security.

You can retire abroad and collect benefits

It is no secret that people from all around the world come to the U.S. hoping to make more money. On the other hand, when it comes to retirement, many Americans now consider settling overseas, and there are many reasons for that, such as seeking a lower cost of living, new adventure or less expensive health care.

In fact, according to 2022 data from the U.S. Department of State, the SSA (Social Security Administration) sent about $6.1 billion in benefits to some 760,000 beneficiaries outside the U.S.

If you are also planning to retire abroad but are hesitant due to concerns over Social Security or have doubts about how long you can live outside the U.S. before losing Social Security, then be assured that your benefits are safe even if you retire abroad. Barring a few exceptions, you will continue to receive Social Security checks even if you retire abroad.

Talking about how long you can live outside the U.S. before losing Social Security, again, be assured that you will continue to get Social Security benefits irrespective of the time you spend overseas in retirement.

However, before you book a ticket to your retirement destination, it is important that you fully understand the SSA rules for collecting benefits abroad.

How long you can live outside the US before losing Social Security?

As noted above, there is no time restriction for receiving Social Security benefits abroad. As long as you qualify for the benefits and your proof of life documents are submitted annually, you will get your monthly benefits checks.

In addition to the usual Social Security formalities, those who retire abroad are required to fill out Form SSA-7162. This two-page long form asks beneficiaries about any changes in their residency and marital status. Beneficiaries get this form from the SSA every 1 to 2 years. If beneficiaries don’t submit this form, the SSA may stop their benefits payment.

Moreover, beneficiaries collecting benefits abroad also need to file a U.S. tax return. Taxes on overseas Social Security benefits are usually the same as those for retirees living in the U.S. It must be noted that if a person receives any pension from a foreign government, their monthly check could be reduced.

Countries you wouldn’t receive SS benefits

As said above, barring a few exceptions, Americans can receive Social Security checks in any country they retire. Currently, the U.S. doesn’t have a Social Security agreement with nine countries.

So, if you plan to retire in these countries, you won’t get your U.S. Social Security. These countries are Azerbaijan, Belarus, Cuba, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, North Korea, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Note that even if you live in these countries, your payments won’t be gone forever. If you live in any of the above-mentioned countries, the benefit payment you are eligible for will be paid to you retroactively once you move to any other country (except for those nine countries).

Will you qualify for Medicare if you retire abroad?

Unlike Social Security benefits, Medicare won’t be available outside the U.S. However, if you retire abroad you will still be eligible for Part A, which basically covers hospital and many other inpatient stays, once you come back to the U.S.

It is recommended that you don’t enroll for Part B, which covers the cost of doctor visits and other outpatient care, if you plan to stay outside the U.S. for a long period of time. This is because the premium is taken out of your Social Security checks. However, if you enroll later in Part B, you will have to pay a 10% additional premium for every year you delay registering for Part B.

Tips if you are planning to live outside the U.S

You can easily apply for benefits through online accounts for workers and retirees that the SSA offers. However, you will have to provide a U.S. address to open that online account.

It is important for retirees to apply for benefits before moving out of the country. If you fail to open an account with Social Security before moving out of the country, you won’t be able to apply online, instead you will have to visit the Federal Benefits office at a U.S. embassy.

It is recommended that you don’t deposit your Social Security check into foreign bank accounts as you may not get the best exchange rate. To get the maximum return, you need to create and keep a U.S. account. This way, you can deposit your U.S. dollar-denominated benefits check into your U.S. account. Later, you can transfer the amount to your foreign account when the currency rates are favorable.

Another important point to remember for ex-pats is that a foreign spouse may qualify for spousal benefits even if they don’t have a U.S. work record.

Final words

Social Security is a complex program, and overseas rules make it even more complex. The SSA employees may not always be available to offer you advice. So, it is recommended that you get the help of an expert who has experience with overseas benefits. It will help you to maximize your benefits payment. You can also contact the SSA’s Office of Earnings International Operations (OEIO) for more information on benefits if you live abroad.

This article originally appeared on ValueWalk and was syndicated by MediaFeed.

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