Can You Retire Offshore and Still Receive Social Security Benefits?

By Mark. M — Published February 22, 2018

Can You Retire Offshore and Still Receive Social Security Benefits?

Retiring offshore was once exclusive to an elite few. However, things have changed drastically in modern times. Today, it’s possible for someone to retire in a country other than the United States and live a relatively comfortable life.

In fact, there are several expatriate communities that already exist in many countries and a fairly large chunk of these communities are made up of Americans. Great, right? Well, of course, it is.

However, there seems to be a misconception that offshore retirement is still the domain of rich people. Many still doubt the idea because of the assumption that they can’t afford to retire abroad.

One of the most common questions (in this context) that people have is whether they can get social security while living outside the United States? This is a fairly reasonable concern.

So, can you get social security while living outside the United States?
Well, you can. However, there are certain requirements that you will have to meet. Let’s take a look at some of them here.

To retire abroad and continue earning your social security benefits, you are, firstly, required to have contributed to the social security fund for about 40 quarters, which is the same as 10 years. You can start collecting the benefits at age 65 if you were born prior to 1937. For those born after 1960, social security benefits are made available after age 67.

Even so, there is a possibility to start collecting the benefits at the ages of 62 and 70. However, early access to the benefits means that a reduced amount will be granted each month instead of the original amount. For late retirees (above 70), the monthly amount is higher than normal.

So, essentially, the main point here is that you can collect your social security benefits if you’re in an offshore location. Barring the above-mentioned condition, you’ll have to make sure that the country you’re retiring in offers you the facility to collect your social security checks.

The process
There are a few options as to how you can receive the money. For starters, you can have the money deposited into a US bank and transferred to an overseas account. Then, there is also the option of having the check mailed to you. But, you will have to place a request with the Treasury Department for this.

You will also be sent a questionnaire (before you enter the retirement phase) on a periodic basis that will assess your eligibility for future payments. This is to ensure that the funds will be used appropriately. The questionnaire is likely to carry questions regarding your family situation, possible disabilities, and even employment.

The questionnaire is typically sent every year or once in two years. This usually varies according to your location (in the US), age, and whether you have a representative payee.

It is important to alert Social Security to key changes such as a change in address, marital status, or employment. If you don’t fill the questionnaire or report changes, there can be consequences. This is even more likely when the information you’ve shared is found to be false.

Post-retirement employment
You are allowed to collect social security benefits even if you have found employment in your offshore retirement location. However, your earnings cannot be more than the yearly exempt amount, which changes annually. To stay updated on the limit, visit

Working abroad
If you’ve worked abroad, there is a possibility that you can still be eligible for social security even if you haven’t contributed to the fund. However, it depends on the bilateral social security treaty signed by your host country and home country (US).

These agreements are called Totalization Agreements and the US has signed 25 of them. So, there are 25 countries where you can work, retire, and still claim social security benefits.

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