Every year, hundreds of thousands of Americans retire abroad. In many cases, they are still entitled to their Social Security benefits. However, every country has its own laws and regulations on foreign income. If you choose to retire abroad, you should be aware of these 10 countries where the U.S. government won’t send your social security check.
Choosing to Retire Abroad
When I graduated college, I had a degree, a few regrets over the career path I chose, and no clear direction of where my life was going. So, I took a leap of faith and decided to pursue a graduate degree abroad. However, the experience changed my life and my retirement plans.
Although I am now back in the U.S., my long-term goals haven’t changed. Our household income is enough to support our cost of living here, but it’s much different when you are living on a fixed income. Therefore, my husband and I are considering retirement in another country.
But, financial planning will be an important factor in making this happen. And while we have other retirement accounts, our social security check will be a large portion of our income. We haven’t made our final decision yet, but one thing is certain; we can rule out these 10 countries where the U.S. government won’t send your social security check.
10 Countries Where the U.S. Government Won’t Send Your Social Security Check
There are several reasons why ex-pats don’t receive items in the mail when they live abroad. And the further a package has to travel, the more chances things have to disappear. However, the reasons that retirees in these 10 countries won’t receive their Social Security checks are political. And while it is possible for Americans to live in most of these places, it comes with added difficulties if you want to receive your benefits in these countries.
The U.S. has a long and tense political history with Cuba. For decades, there were sanctions, trade embargoes, and boycotts on Cuban goods. While things have changed in recent years, there are still some restrictions in place. Cuba remains one of only two countries with official sanctions from the U.S. Treasury Department that prevent beneficiaries from receiving Social Security payments.
The North Korean government’s hostility toward the U.S. is also no secret. Since Kim Jong Il took control, they have been waging a war on American culture, banning any technology, goods, or services. In return, the U.S. has imposed severe financial, travel, and trade sanctions against North Korea. It is the second country to have explicit financial sanctions that prevent the payment of SS benefits to American citizens in the country. Although it doesn’t prevent Americans from sending money to individuals, the U.S. government won’t send your Social Security check to North Korea.
Former Soviet Republics
The former Soviet Republics are another area that presents some financial obstacles for American ex-pats living there. If you choose to live in one of these eight countries, it will be difficult to access your Social Security benefits.
As it currently stands, there is no written agreement with the Azerbaijani government that ensures the U.S. government’s access to Americans living there, or their vital records. Therefore, they can’t guarantee that the benefits are distributed to the correct person. Without this security, the SSA won’t send your checks there.
However, it is not impossible to claim your benefits if you choose to make a like in Azerbaijan. You will have to jump through a few hoops and meet their conditions, including staying in frequent contact with the consulate. But, you may be able to access your funds.
American ex-pats in Belarus face the same issues as those in Azerbaijan. However, there is also the added difficulty of some new sanctions due to the current conflict. This will make it even harder to access your SSA benefits if you choose to retire here.
This situation is a little different in Kazakhstan. There aren’t any existing sanctions. But on the other hand, there isn’t a formal agreement or guaranteed access either. So if you choose to retire here, you would have to petition for an exception in order to receive your SS check in the country.
There aren’t many American ex-pats in Kyrgystan. But those who want to retire here will face the same issues as the other former Soviet Republics on this list. Until there are formal agreements, SS benefits will be restricted here as well.
This small country is another former Soviet holdout that has not signed formal agreements with the U.S. Government. Therefore, the only way to receive your SS check here is to petition for an exception as discussed above.
Although Tajikistan sits on the other side of the former U.S.S.R., its current government has also had limited relations with the U.S. It still has not entered into agreements or guaranteed distribution of S.S. funds. So, American ex-pats will face the same financial obstacles here.
This republic on the Caspian Sea is another country with limited options for American retirees. It will be more difficult for them to claim their benefits if they choose to spend their golden years here.
Like the other seven former Soviet Republics on this list, the lack of agreement between governments restricts SS benefits here as well. Many people who want to retire abroad are looking for a simpler life. So if you’re like me and want convenience, then the financial hurdles this creates may not be worth the hassle.
While most of these countries have things that make them attractive to tourists and ex-pats, there is no doubt that they aren’t the most foreigner-friendly options. If you are looking for an international destination that offers greater access and convenience, perhaps you should consider these locations that are more welcoming to American retirees.
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Jenny Smedra is an avid world traveler, ESL teacher, former archaeologist, and freelance writer. Choosing a life abroad had strengthened her commitment to finding ways to bring people together across language and cultural barriers. While most of her time is dedicated to either working with children, she also enjoys good friends, good food, and new adventures.