En español | Q. I'm a U.S. citizen but I may decide to live outside the United States after retirement. If I do so, will I be able to get my Social Security checks by mail?
A. Generally speaking, the answer is yes. Social Security will send checks to retirees in most foreign countries. However, there are a few exceptions.
For instance, the checks can't be sent to Cuba or North Korea. If you're a U.S. citizen, once you leave those places for an unrestricted country, Social Security will send you checks that were withheld.
In addition, Social Security generally does not send checks to Cambodia, Vietnam and certain areas of the former Soviet Union. It will make exceptions in some cases if you agree to such conditions as visiting the U.S. embassy in those countries to pick up your benefits.
Generally speaking, U.S. citizens can receive benefits abroad as long as they're eligible.
The rules for beneficiaries who are foreign citizens are different, and complex. In some cases, payments will be cut off if the person remains outside the United States for more than six months.
For more information, read "Your Payments While You Are Outside the United States."
Also of interest: 10 things you should know about Social Security. >>
Stan Hinden, a former columnist for the Washington Post, wrote How to Retire Happy: The 12 Most Important Decisions You Must Make Before You Retire. Have a question? Check out the AARP Social Security Question and Answer Tool.