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BRAMA, Mar. 22, 2000, 10:00pm EST


How being outside the U.S. may affect your Social Security payments

Life in Ukraine can be far less expensive than living in the United States. For older generations, which have often dreamed of returning to the homeland, this might be an attraction worth consideration for their retirement years, especially if living on incomes comprised primarily of Social Security benefits.

Unfortunately, this is not an alternative for many American citizens. Did you know that the Social Security Administration is forbidden to send any money into Ukraine? Did you know that you stand to lose your benefits after having been out of the country for six months?

Did you know that if you permanently retired to Russia, Armenia, or the Baltic states you would be able to collect your Social Security retirement income without any difficulty, but if you move to Ukraine your retirement benefits are terminated?

The information included below is quoted from the Social Security Administration Publications website:
http://www.ssa.gov/pubs/10137.html


When Are You "Outside Of The U.S."?

When we say you are outside of the U.S., we mean that you are not in one of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands or American Samoa. Once you have been away from the U.S. for at least 30 days in a row, you are considered to be outside the country until you return and stay in the U.S. for at least 30 days in a row. In addition, you may be required to establish lawful presence in the U.S. for that 30day period. For more information, you may contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or consulate or Social Security office.

What Happens To Your Right To Social Security Payments When You Are Outside The U.S.?

If you are a U.S. citizen, you may receive your Social Security payments outside the U.S. as long as you are eligible for them.

Your payments will stop after you have been outside the U.S. for six months. Once this happens, they cannot be started again until you come back and stay in the U.S. for a whole calendar month. This means you have to be in the U.S. on the first minute of the first day of a month and stay through the last minute of the last day of that month. In addition, you may be required to establish lawful presence in the U.S. for that full calendar month period. For more information, you may contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or consulate or Social Security office.

Regardless of your citizenship, there are certain countries where we are not allowed to send payments.

Countries To Which We Cannot Send Payments

U.S. Treasury Department regulations prohibit sending payments to you if you are in Cuba, Cambodia (formerly Kampuchea) or North Korea. In addition, Social Security restrictions prohibit sending payments to individuals in Vietnam or areas (other than Armenia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Russia) which were in the former Soviet Union. You cannot receive payments while you are in one of these countries, and we cannot send your payments to anyone for you.

If you are a U.S. citizen, and are in Cuba, Cambodia or North Korea, you can receive all of your payments that were withheld once you leave that country and go to another country where we can send payments. Generally, if you are not a U.S. citizen, you cannot receive any payments for months in which you live in one of these countries, even though you leave that country and satisfy all other requirements.


 

Contact your senators and representatives if you think this regulation is unfair and should be changed. Email addresses for Senators, House representatives and special Committee members can be found via the http://thomas.loc.gov/ website.


 


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