Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Retirement benefits and moving back to Vietnam - San Jose Mercury News

Q I am a Vietnamese immigrant with U.S citizenship.

After many years working here, I am now retired and would like to return to Vietnam.

How will living in Vietnam, a communist country, affect my retirement finance?

I heard that it's cut off after a few months if I continue to live there!

Is it true?

This question is often raised among my friends and has caused a great concern.

Le Ly

San Jose

A This gets mighty complicated, Le Ly.

Here's the way it works, according to Social Security.

Since you are a U.S. citizen, you may

receive your Social Security payments outside the U.S.

However, there is a hitch.

Social Security restrictions prohibit sending payments to individuals in Cambodia, Vietnam or areas that were in the former Soviet Union (other than Armenia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Russia).

"Generally, she cannot receive payments while she is in Vietnam, and we cannot send her payments to anyone for her," said Social Security Administration spokesman Lowell Kepke. "However, exceptions can be made for certain eligible beneficiaries in countries other than Cuba or North Korea."

Kepke added, "To qualify for an exception, she must agree to the conditions of payment. One of the conditions is that she must appear in person at the U.S. Embassy each month to receive her benefits."

So, it sounds like you can make this work for you, but check with Social Security and the Department of State for the details and the agreement you may have to sign.

But the news is not good for non-U.S. citizens who return to Vietnam, Kepke said. "A non-U.S. citizen could lose benefits after staying away for six months."

So, any non-U.S. citizen who goes to Vietnam and is here on a green card should return before the six months is up to keep receiving Social Security benefits.

I told you this was complicated.

For further details, see

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