Expat's Manual

Receiving Social Security Payments, if you’re eligible for them, may or may not be complicated, depending on where you live and how you’ve set up the payment with the U.S. government. For example, the U.S. Treasury Department is restricted from sending money to countries such as Cuba, Cambodia and North Korea.

Even if you are in a country that’s non-restricted, you have to depend on international mail in order to receive your check – and most foreign banks will put a hold on U.S. checks for at least four weeks while the check is sent back to America to be cleared. In addition, you will charged a currency conversion fee.

This is where the American bank account you (hopefully) are still maintaining can come in handy. By having your Social Security payment deposited directly into your American account, you can immediately withdraw the funds with your ATM card in your new country. Or just let the funds grow in your American account and transfer a large amount every few months through an international money exchange service.

Finally, some larger U.S. banks offer a transfer of Social Security funds into your foreign bank account – the Social Security Administration normally pays for these bank fees. This arrangement has been made with a number of countries, including the United Kingdom, Australia, Argentina and many others.

For the most current information about receiving social security payments outside the United States, you should get a copy of Social Security Administration Publication No. 05-10137, ICN 480085 by mail from the Social Security Administration, at your nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate, or from the SSA website at http://www.ssa.gov.

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