Receiving Social Security Overseas

“Kathleen, today, my husband and I were discussing the cost of living in either Panama or Belize to see if our income would be enough to afford it. My income is Social Security and state (Alaska) retirement; however, my husband gets Social Security Disability. All our income is deposited directly into our savings account. Do you know if he could still get the disability if we were living out of the United States?”

–Jane S., United States

Yes. Disability shouldn’t stop if you move out of the country.

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Lief, this question is in reference to you mentioning banks closing the accounts of Americans. I am an American/Italian dual citizen. If I open up an international bank account, am I required to disclose that I am an American, or can I simply open the bank account with my Italian passport and call it a day? I realize this may depend on what country I am opening the account in, but a general rule of thumb with an example or two would be great. Thank you so much!”

–Mark M., United States

It depends on the bank.

One new bank in Panama that I work with asks if you are a “multi-citizen” as part of the account-application process. You could tell them you have only one citizenship (which could be risky); however, if you were born in the United States, that fact will be disclosed on your non-U.S. passport (which will include your place of birth).

Banks today are trying any way they can to make sure they capture knowledge of any U.S. citizen holding an account with them so that they can comply with evolving IRS rules and requirements.

Right now (until the HIRE Act kicks in), the requirement is only that you have to fill out a W-9 that the offshore bank holds in your file.

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