Unbeknownst to some retirees, it’s entirely possible to receive your federal retirement benefits in Thailand – thousands of Americans every year do just that. If you’re coming up to retirement age and know you’re going to be staying in Thailand, make sure you apply for your Social Security benefits well before your planned retirement date by following these simple instructions.
When Should I Apply For My Social Security Benefits? – According to the information I was given at the American Embassy in Bangkok, you should apply for your Social Security benefits at least 3 months before you get to the age you wish to retire. For instance, if you’re retiring at the first possible retirement age, which is 62, you should apply for your Social Security benefits while you’re still in your 61st year. It takes Social Security around 3 months to get everything in place so you can start to receive your Social Security checks, so make sure you don’t leave it until the last minute.
How Do I Apply For My Social Security Benefits? – You can apply for Social Security benefits online at the Social Security Administration’s website, which is the easiest way to do it as you can also check the status of your application online too. It will only take you around 30 minutes and will immediately put your application in process. Otherwise, you can get the application papers at the US Embassy in Bangkok, who will then send them onto the Philippines for processing. An option which will take a few weeks longer than doing it directly online.
How Do I Get My Social Security Checks in Thailand Every Month? – You have two options. The easiest way is to have your check deposited into your US bank account and then draw the money through to Thailand via ATM.
Or, a much more problematic way, is to have the check sent directly to the US Embassy in Bangkok, which handles thousands of American retirees’ Social Security checks every month. From here, they will arrange to have your Social Security check deposited into Bangkok Bank in Thailand, which is the only Thai bank set up to do this.
I say ‘problematic’ however as there have been problems with Social Security money going into Bangkok Bank accounts in Thailand (read next section for why). Plus, if you don’t already have one, you’ll need to set up a new bank account at a Bangkok Bank branch in Thailand before you apply for your Social Security benefits.
Problems That Can Arise From Social Security Deposits To Bangkok Bank – Under a new law, the US government is now requiring Bangkok Bank to verify that everyone who is receiving Social Security benefits in Thailand is actually alive. So, every month, if you receive your Social Security benefits in Bangkok Bank, you will have to physically go to the bank and sign paperwork to be able to withdraw the money.
As you get older, with the Thai heat and the traffic jams, this can become physically challenging and, if you don’t sign the paperwork every month, Bangkok Bank will return your Social Security benefits to the Social Security Administration in the United States.
Overall, therefore, it’s better to simply have your Social Security benefits paid directly into your bank account in the United States then withdraw via ATM in Thailand.
Whichever way you choose to receive your Social Security benefits in Thailand, it takes less than an hour to get everything in motion. Simply file your application with the Social Security Administration and wait to receive your first Social Security benefits. Happy Retirement!