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Can we receive SSA in Panama ?

Hello All,
We are a retired couple in Portland, Oregon thinking of relocating to Panama.  We will plan an extended vacation first to get acquainted with the locale and try to find a location to our liking.  Any suggestions there would be most welcome.  We have other questions about US Social Security.  Can we receive SSA in Panama?  Since we both trade online in the stock market, we wonder what limitations we would encounter in Panama.  I suppose we need a Panama lawyer for these questions, but any suggestions here are also welcome.

Kraemer & Kraemer Law in Panama City +507 297 4708

Yes you can get SS here in Panama. You have to submit a “proof of life” form every other year though. We found it much easier to maintain a US address, so if you have a family member or someone willing to help with that, you might consider it. I live in California at my daughter’s house and if something comes in that needs my attention she can snap a photo and send it to me. My SS goes to my Schwab account, I pay bills and credit card on line, and get cash from an ATM here as needed. Schwab is especially nice in that they reimburse my ATM fees.

Keep in mind that is no mail service as we know it here. You can get a box at the post office (if they even have one available) or get things sent to general delivery. Otherwise people use mailing services like Mailboxes Etc which are faster (though not by US standards, 1-2 weeks) but you have to pay for the service.

I think you need a US address to trade stocks with a US. brokerage account. Before we moved my husband went to ScottTrade all excited about his upcoming move to Panama. They immediately closed his account. We said not a word to Schwab and have been able to use their website for trading as if we were in the US (though as far as they know we live in CA).

I second Marcos Kraemer, excellent lawyer.  Www.kraemerlaw.com.

As for where to live, what do you want?  City, country, beaches, mountains, immersion or lots of expats nearby? How is your Spanish? For a small country there are lots of options.

We live in David and have been really happy. Everything we need is close by, people are super nice, and we can easily drive to Boquete if we want to do something there. Many think we are nuts living down here where it’s so hot, but the mountains are too chilly for us. Everyone has their own preferences so you have to find what suits you.

You can get your SS in Panama but I find it easier to just have it direct deposited to my U.S. bank account.  I spend more time in Panama than the U.S. so I had to go through the embassy to make the arrangements but my U.S. account works better than an account here would for this. 
The only problem trading online that I know of is poor internet.  Sometimes it is fine but other times it is very slow or down.  Different locations in Panama will give different results so you will want to ask about internet in every location you may be interested in living.

Jiffen :

Hello All,
We are a retired couple in Portland, Oregon thinking of relocating to Panama.  We will plan an extended vacation first to get acquainted with the locale and try to find a location to our liking.  Any suggestions there would be most welcome.  We have other questions about US Social Security.  Can we receive SSA in Panama?  Since we both trade online in the stock market, we wonder what limitations we would encounter in Panama.  I suppose we need a Panama lawyer for these questions, but any suggestions here are also welcome.

You don't need an attorney unless you want to get a Pensionado (retirement) Visa or open a bank account in Panama. You have 180 days as a tourist (visa free entry) if you want to try things out before spending several thousand dollars with an attorney for a Pensionado Visa. And, after living overseas, if you like it enough to stay long-term, you could fly back to US for a visit then go back to Panama again for another 180 day visit and start working on your Pensionado Visa. You can file and collect SS while living overseas in most countries except a few that are banned. Your SS is between you and the US government, not a Panamanian attorney. It would be better short-term to have your SS direct deposited in US bank and use your US bank atm card overseas to get money rather than open up a new Panamanian bank account at least until you're sure you are going to stay long-term. If you open a foreign bank account, you MAY be required to file FBAR reporting depending on your account balance. I use a Chase bank atm card and a Capital One credit card for purchases while living and traveling overseas (both with no fees). Fidelity Investments & Charles Schwab also have no fee atm cards depending on your Client status.

If you already have an online brokerage account in US, you can keep trading without limitations as long as you keep your US address on record. Some financial firms will limit trading or suspend your account if you change your address to a foreign address. Even if they allow you to keep trading, they will be required to do mandatory withholding on any transactions. I found that out with Fidelity, so I changed back quickly to US address...

You can do what you want, but it's always a good idea when going to a foreign country, to go as a tourist (up to 180 day in Panama), rent something and NOT buy anything, use your existing US bank accounts & atm cards to get money at least until you decide for sure that you are going to stay long-term...
Kindly...
P.S. I've been living and traveling overseas for 4 years...

These people might be another alternative  info[at]PanamaRelocationTours.com
I have heard a lot of positive feedback about the tours so it might be something to look into.

Make life easier for yourself. Get your SS check direct deposit into a Charles Schwab account. No foreign transaction fees and they reimburse all ATM fees. Use a USA mailing address for SS.

Easy peasy!

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Good luck!

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