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Can you collect Social Security payments if you retire abroad?

Yes you can!

If you are a U.S. citizen, you can receive your benefits in most foreign countries, usually by check or direct deposit. If you are not a U.S. citizen, the answer is more complicated, with rules varying by country. For specifics, see the Social Security publication “Your Payments While You Are Outside the United States.”
In order to receive benefits you must  generally  have paid into social security for ten years. Many US expats who work for foreign employers do not pay into US social security and therefore may not have enough credits to collect benefits.  More specifically – In the USA to get Social Security you need 40 credits. You can earn a maximum of 4 credits per one year  for each $1000 of earnings. So if you earn $4000 or more for 10 years you qualify. In general the more you earn and the more years you work the more you get, presumably there are limits to this. The calculator can be found on the social security web site: http://www.ssa.gov/retire2/AnypiaApplet.html

Certain countries have what’s called Totalization Agreements with USA – for example here is one with the UK: http://www.ssa.gov/international/Agreement_Pamphlets/uk.html. According to this agreement payments made to the UK PAYE system qualify for US Social Security.

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