Will Moving to Mexico Affect My Social Security Benefits?

Source: Q-Roo Paul

At least once or twice a week, a reader will write me asking if he or she will be able to collect Social Security benefits while living in Mexico. In the interest of reducing my daily email workload, I decided to write an article on the topic.

U.S. Citizens

Great news! If you’re a U.S. citizen, you can still receive your Social Security payments while living in Mexico. You can even have the payments deposited directly into a Mexican bank account.

Here’s an interesting statistic from the U.S. Social Security Administration: In the month of April alone, 58,710 payments were sent to beneficiaries in Mexico.

If you do have your payments sent to a Mexican bank account, you may be required to submit an annual report to the U.S. Government. You can learn more about that here: FBAR.

Non-U.S. Citizens

When it comes to non-U.S. citizens, the answer is not as simple. Whether or not the person will be eligible to receive payments while living in Mexico will depend on several factors.

You can read more about this in the Social Security Administration’s educational guide Your Payments While You Are Outside the U.S.

Maintaining Your Benefits

It’s very important to keep an accurate mailing address on file with the Social Security Administration. Periodically, they will send you a questionnaire to determine that you are still eligible to receive benefits. If you don’t respond, the payments will stop.

Some recipients will be required to complete a questionnaire every year between May and June. The annual requirement applies to recipients who reside outside the country and:

  • Are age 90 or over;
  • Have a representative payee; or
  • Are not receiving benefits as a spouse, widow(er), parent, mother or father, or disabled widow(er)

I know the wording of that last line is a little confusing, but don’t blame me. These were taken directly from the written guidelines provided by the Social Security Administration. 

Benefits Offices in Mexico

The U.S. government even has three federal benefits offices in Mexico to assist you:

Federal Benefits Unit
United States Consulate General
Paseo de la Victoria 3650
32534 Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua
Phone: 01-800-772-6394 (within Mexico only)
Fax: 1-656-227-3501 Email:FBU.Ciudad.Juarez@ssa.gov

Federal Benefits Unit
United States Consulate General
Progreso 175
44100 Guadalajara, Jalisco
Phone: 01-800-772-6394 (within Mexico only)
Fax: 52-33-3268-0803
Email: FBU.Guadalajara@ssa.gov

Federal Benefits Unit
United States Embassy
Paseo de la Reforma 305
06500 Mexico D. F.
Phone: 01-800-772-6394 (within Mexico only) or 052-55-1102-6300
Fax: 052-55-1102-6301 Email:FBU.Mexico.City@ssa.gov

Let’s Wrap This Up

Mexico is a great retirement destination for Americans looking for a way to make their money go further without sacrificing their quality of life. I know several expats who live very well in Mexico on just their monthly Social Security payments.

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About the Author

Qroo Paul
Paul Kurtzweil (Q-Roo Paul) was a deputy sheriff in Florida for 25 years before retiring at the rank of lieutenant in 2015. He and his wife moved to Mexico looking to maximize their retirement income. They later started a blog called Two Expats Mexico (qroo.us) to share their experiences as well as information about the logistical and legal aspects of retiring south of the border.

27 Comments on "Will Moving to Mexico Affect My Social Security Benefits?"

  1. Skip Essick | May 19, 2017 at 9:02 am |

    Thanks Paul. Quick question. How do you handle mail? We’re moving there in October and have heard using a mail service out of Laredo is a good option. We’ve also heard using a virtual mail service is good. Thoughts?

  2. Hi Paul,

    With all your knowledge about Mexico, I am surprised that you would be politically incorrect. Please remember that Mexico is also an American country and many Mexicans take offense when referring to the US as America.

    There are no ‘American consulates or embassies’ anywhere in the world! They are United States Consulates and Embassies.

    Keep up the good work!

    • Q-Roo Paul | May 19, 2017 at 12:48 pm |

      Hi Terry. I guess my time in Mexico has made me less politically correct because people here rarely mention such things. In fact, they call people from the U.S. “americanos” even if we use the term “estadounidenses” in the same conversation.

      As far as the addresses for the benefits offices, they were copied verbatim from the Social Security Administration’s web site. You might want to let them know there is no such place. 🙂

      • My apologies, I checked there website and sure enough, the lists say American.

        However, the NOTE at the top says check here for U.S. embassies. Go figure!

        • Q-Roo Paul | May 19, 2017 at 3:36 pm |

          Hahaha, no problem. I’m usually more cognizant of such things but I only copied and pasted in this case.

        • Q-Roo Paul | May 19, 2017 at 3:45 pm |

          This got me thinking; did you know that Mexico is actually Estados Unidos Mexicanos (United Mexican States)? If you only say United States, don’t you think there would be some confusion? Hmmmmm, things to ponder 😉

          • Si, I see the ‘Estados Unidos Mexicanos’ signs on the stadium, as I walk along Calle 34, in PDC.

            Once again, keep up the good work

        • Q-Roo Paul | May 19, 2017 at 3:48 pm |

          I went ahead and made the change. I might CC the federal government on this too.

  3. Hi Paul
    For your Canadian readers, I thought I would post an addendum to your piece. As a Canadian you are also able to collect Old Age and Canada Pension as an expat but you are not eligible for the guaranteed income supplement.or for free health care if you are out of Canada more than 6 months per year. As an expat in Mexico the government deducts flat rate of 15% from the amount they deposit into the bank every month..

    • Carla and Rocco | May 19, 2017 at 12:50 pm |

      Hi Brookegazer!

      A fellow Canadian here! That 15% deduction… is it coming from the Canadian government or Mexican government? As we are planning our move we are trying to understand all the government logistics in Canada and Mexico but get overwhelmingly confusing with online resources. We are looking at living and owning a business there… any idea on what deductions (Canadian and Mexican) would apply?
      Tia, Carla

    • Q-Roo Paul | May 19, 2017 at 1:29 pm |

      Thank you so much for adding that!

  4. Terry……..I’m sure that Paul knows what he is talking about. And I know that some people need to take their happy pill daily. Paul is doing a great service to many expats and doing a damn good job in my opinion. I have not made the move yet but will do so soon. Maybe you are more intelligent and know more about all of the issues and processes involved in expats moving to Mexico. Have you ever thought of taking time from your life and starting a blog and provide people with your advice and opinions. Hope everyone has a nice day.

  5. the form SSA 7162 is sent every other year based on the last numbers of your SSA number and is commonly called the “Proof of life” form. If not received, benefits are suspended in February but will be restored. if you direct deposit in a USA account AND use a USA address, this will not happen. however, SSA requires you to report out of country addresses… Most embassies/consulates accept these forms and will forward them to SSA since international mail is questionable at best.

  6. Thanks for this article. Do you have any reference links handy for medicare/Medicaid benefits for expats?

  7. Paul – As usual great info and reassuring for those of us planning to retire in Mexico. We look forward to living the relaxing lifestyle on the beach with our social security checks being deposited into our bank accounts. Since we’re planning on Northern Baja, we haven’t decided yet whether to just keep our money in a US bank or Mexican bank. Either way, with grandchildren in Southern California, we’ll be back and forth often. Thanks again and keep up the great blogging.

  8. Great info. We just recently moved to San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico. On the recommendation of a number of folks living in Mexico, we have maintained a US mailing address (family member) and our SS checks are direct deposit into our US bank account. We pay for everything except rent with pesos, which we get at the bank’s ATM, which is also the best exchange rate. And paying in pesos is cheaper, more convenient, and preferred by local businesses. This may not be a long term solution – I don’t know – but it’s working great now. And FYI… Even with a few outstandingly US monthly bills, we’re still living for less than our SS benefits!

  9. @Jon – re: “SSA requires you to report out of country addresses” – so if one has a USA bank account and mailing address, is reporting a foreign address still required?

  10. Kathy Perkins | May 20, 2017 at 12:33 am |

    We just went through a suspension of our SS benefits payments because we did t provide a Mexican address when we changed direct deposit to our Mexican bank account. It took 4 months to straighten things out! Luckily my husband and I both have pensions deposited to a US bank or we would have been in serious trouble financially. Our problem is where we live we get no mail delivery so direct deposit to Mexico is not an option for us.

  11. My suggestion is to maintain a US address- for a number of reasons and use direct deposit in a US bank. Use your ATM to access funds. Reduces paperwork with the IRS , SSA and other government beauracracies. Also, less problems with Medicare.

  12. Tomas García | May 20, 2017 at 11:00 am |

    Medicare is also a Social Security benefit, yet your article totally omitted the fact the Medicare benefits are unavailable in Mexico. If you move to Mexico, you had better have an alternative plan for medical insurance.

    • Q-Roo Paul | May 20, 2017 at 11:11 am |

      I try to keep the articles to less than 600 words. I’m going to address Medicare and insurance issues in another article.

    • Jorge Cajiga | May 24, 2017 at 8:37 am |

      From Pages 24-25 of the reference guide that Paul mentioned here (Re: You can read more about this in the Social Security Administration’s educational guide Your Payments While You Are Outside the U.S):

      Medicare generally does not cover health services you get outside the United States. Part A becomes available to you if you return to the United States. We do not withhold monthly premiums from your benefit payment for this protection.
      If you want Part B, you must enroll. If you do, we normally will withhold a monthly premium from your payment.

      Because Medicare benefits are available only in the United States, it may not be to your advantage to sign up and pay the premium for medical insurance if you will be out of the United States for a
      long period of time. However, if you do not sign up, be aware that if you later do so, you will pay a 10 percent higher premium for each 12-month period you could have been enrolled, but were not.
      If you have Medicare Part B coverage and you want to cancel it, notify Social Security. Premiums for Medicare Part B and associated premiums will continue for one more month after the month you notify us

  13. STEVEN HANUSA | January 7, 2018 at 12:14 pm |

    I am US citizen. M y wife has dual citizenship Mexican native US naturalized. I receive SS ans she receives SS spouse benefits. Will she lose SS if we return to Mexico? Are there any circumstances under which I could lose SS, such as past due US taxes or past due student loans? Both are noncollectible status due to low income. Thanks

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