Social Security

Some facts on Social Security to get started with:

You will not receive Medicare* in any country other than the United States.

If you are a U.S. citizen, you may receive Social Security benefits if you are living outside the U.S. as long as you are eligible for them. (There are exceptions.)

Even if you are a citizen of Mexico, you may receive your S.S. payments as long as you are outside the U.S.

You are considered outside of the U.S., if 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,

– American Samoa,

– Or if you have been out of the U.S. at least 30 continuous days.

There are stipulations and exceptions for everything, and you need to really study the booklets thoroughly.


The S.S. will send questionnaires periodically that you must fill out and return, informing them as to whether you are still eligible for benefits. Do so immediately upon receipt of the documents.

Notify S.S. of any changes i.e.: Change of address, Divorce, Death, and other changes. So again, check the pamphlets for full information. In most countries, you can report change to the nearest Embassy of Consulate.

Used barb with tree in squareThe Foreign Work Test – a monthly benefit is withheld for each month in which a beneficiary under age 70 works more than 45 hours outside the U.S. in employment or self-employment which is not subject to U.S. Social Security taxes.

It does not matter how much was earned or how many hours were worked each day. Since our plans were to go to Mexico to retire – not to work – we were not really concerned.

You can have Social Security payments deposited directly into your Banking account. Then, you can withdraw from there via ATM’s, or by writing a check on your account, etc. This is the account you would use for a service such as CheckFree, or just use the bank’s offered account to pay bills.

Effective October 2003, you can have your U.S. Social Security check direct deposited to your bank account in Mexico, but you cannot have your IRA or company pension check direct-deposited to a Mexican account. Ergo, both an American bank account and a Mexican Bank Account are pertinent for your convenience.

Exchange rates have no effect on you benefits; except when you take your funds and exchange them for pesos.

Contact your local Social Security office for more printed up-to-date information, or visit

* You will not receive Medicare in any country other than the United States. (However, we hear this may change one of these days, and there are rare exceptions where it may pay for your health care now!)

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