Retired or Planning to Retire?
If you are planning to retire, you need to know that Americans, both in the US and abroad can gain retiree support benefits from the IRS. But this can only happen if you have paid into your Social Security (SS) account over time.
To determine if you are eligible to receive Social Security benefits, much of it will depend on your citizenship, residency status and the agreement the US has with the foreign country you reside in.
The IRS will need coverage in your account (40 credits), or ten years of work that was paid in your SS account to start giving you benefits.
Must-Do for Retirees
If you plan to move abroad and start life as a US retiree, you’ll need to do a file a few things for the Social Security Administration:
- Change of address
- Divorce of Annulment
- Inability of Manage Funds
- …and more
If you do fail to report changes to the administration, this could result in benefits stopping or over payment charges. So it’s best to make sure you share the changes with the SS office as soon as you can.
If you are not eligible to receive SS, any payments from the IRS will stop after you have been living outside the US for six months. But if you are living in a foreign country which is on the Totalization Agreement list, you can still receive SS benefits as a retiring American abroad. Then, however long you’ve been outside the US won’t matter.
Otherwise, if you are a US citizen living abroad in one of the countries not on the Totalization list (ie: restricted countries), your Social Security payments are withheld until you move to a country on the list, or come back to the US.
Retired Widow – Retiree Support
If you are an American abroad who is also a widow (survivor), or a dependent from a deceased taxpayer, you made to meet additional requirements to receive SS benefits and retiree support, like:
- Being a resident in the foreign country for at least five year
- Having authorization to receive benefits from an individual that died working for the US military
- Lived in a country on the Totalization list
Get Your SS Payments Online
You can take advantage of online payments, to get faster direct deposits instead of waiting for a paper check in the mail. By having a SS account online, you can prevent future checks from getting lost or stolen. Abroad, your US Consulate can provide more information regarding relevant Federal Benefits Unit offices closest to you.
Taxable Retirement Benefits
Factually, all Social Security retirement benefits you receive as an American abroad may be taxable income on your US taxes. Meaning, no matter where you live in the world as a US citizen or Greencard Holder, your SS benefits may be taxed.
So plan wisely, we say. SS benefits as retiree support can be up to 85% taxable on your US taxes. Plus, this can bring a tax liability within the country you are living in. It is even more so if there is no clause between your host country and the US on the American Tax Treaty regarding country taxation rights on SS payments.
Having social security benefits does not make you eligible for the FEIE (Foreign Earned Income Exclusion), due to your SS money not being foreign earned.
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