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Many people who retire look forward to traveling in retirement. However, there’s a growing trend where more people decide to retire overseas.

What happens to your federal social security benefits when you leave the country?

It’s a Great Place to Visit, and I Want to Live There

Retirees who are US citizens are entitled to continue receiving benefits for as long as they live outside the United States. After a retired person has been outside the US for 30 days, the rules for collecting social security benefits apply.

The Social Security Administration can send checks to anyone eligible for benefits living abroad, except for in the countries of Cuba and North Korea.

What About Non-US Citizens Receiving Social Security Benefits?

If you are not a US citizen and are receiving social security benefits, you may have restrictions on how long you can receive those benefits outside the United States.

The rules differ per country, so it’s important to research them on the Social Security Administration website. It’s also recommended that you consider working with a financial advisor or an expert in working with immigrants.

I Love Paying Taxes, Said No One, Ever

Whether you are a US citizen, a permanent resident of the United States, or a green card holder, you are subject to US income tax law, no matter where you live. Your worldwide income, including up to 85% of your social security benefit, may be subject to federal income tax.

If you are not a US citizen or you are not a permanent resident of the United States, the US is going to withhold 30% federal income tax from that 85% of your social security benefits unless you meet the conditions of an income tax treaty that reduces your tax rate.

The Social Security Administration website tools has a helpful calculator called the Alien Tax Screening Tool to help you determine if your benefits are subject to the nonresident alien tax withholding or if you qualify for tax treaty benefits.

We Are Always Works in Progress

I want to leave you with a quote that stood out during my reading.

“Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished.”

As we get older, we lose the ability to imagine ourselves being a different person or doing something completely different. This is how we get stuck in jobs that we may hate or get depressed in retirement with nothing to do.

If you ask someone about their retirement plans, they’ll often say, “Oh, you know, I want to play a little golf, travel a little bit, and play with the grandkids.” That’s great, but it’s going to get old quickly.

You can always accomplish something meaningful, no matter how old you are or your situation. Remember, human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished. Don’t think you’re finished. There’s always, always something to do!

Show Resources

Payments Abroad Screening Tool
Your Payments While You Are Outside the United States
Nonresident Alien Tax Withholding