Living on Social Security

What are the rules on living in V.N. on U.S. Social Security? I have heard that you can't, and then you can.  Some are saying not to tell them.  Anyone have any ideal's, comment's? Would like to hear from someone who knows or is doing it.  Thanks.

I suspect the problems you would face will centre around your visa.  Without an employer or being married to a Vietnamese resident you can only get a three month visa which can be renewed for a limited amount of time when you leave the country and return.  I've heard this will also be further limited in the near future.

That is not a concern for me.  I am wanting to find someone living in V.N. who is drawing S.S. from the U.S..  The rules are very confusing, even the S.S. employee's have different answers.  Thanks

I'm getting my SS checks while living here. One restriction is that you can't use direct deposit while in VN. I must pickup my check at the Saigon U.S. Consulate office each month in person. The Consulate office has a form to complete and it took a month to process in the Philippines. It arrives by mail around the 20th of each month. Maybe you can call SS and ask them how to begin the process so you can time it close to your arrival.

Another more annoying catch is cashing the check. I went around to various banks and not one makes it easy to cash or deposit. The Consulate staff advised me to try ANZ Bank (New Zealand). I went there and they have a deposit or cashing fee but it takes a month for the process and a lot of paperwork. So it's just easier for me to send the check to my son in NY and have him deposit it directly to my account. Mail takes about ywo weeks or less and costs $1 for airmail.

I recently saw a form at the Consulate Office that I can direct deposit in the States. I will complete that and see what happens.

Oh yes, I use my HSBC Bank here and they told me they're local and can't accept my checks because they don't have a 'contract' with the U.S. government to cash Treasury checks. Go figure eh!!!!

I've been living in Nam for some years...just last month I signed up for social security.  The gal from the PI stated that I can have a direct deposit to my HSBC account in the US.  I can still live in Vietnam but I have to report to the consulate in HCMC at least once a month.  The documents to fill out can be obtained by either going to the consulate office or using their e-mail address: acshcmc[at]....
If you fill out the computer form for social security you will need to get a specific form from the consulate office to state that you have an address in Vietnam and 'will report at least once a month'. 
Social Security says if you do not comply, they will hold the next check until you comply with their rules...both forms are easy and very quick...anyone who is retired military, please attach your DD-214 to the forms.  You may be asked for birth cert. or marriage/divorce papers...
I actually met someone there at the consulate that was there to just sign their name as 'present'...no specific date in the month...according to the person and the agent behind the window.
Hope this helps some of you.

socorsotony :

If you fill out the computer form for social security you will need to get a specific form from the consulate office to state that you have an address in Vietnam and 'will report at least once a month'. 
Social Security says if you do not comply, they will hold the next check until you comply with their rules...both forms are easy and very quick...anyone who is retired military, please attach your DD-214 to the forms.

The US government is smart, sometimes.

Next time you go to the States, see if you can register as living in the US (friends house) then come back without telling them.

Hopefully the pension will go on and on.

The VN government, upon the death of a Foreigner, notifies the embassy/consulate of the government who issued the passport of the dead body.

People with more than one passport are lucky. The VN government doesn't use any other passports for notification and therefore the other government(s) never learn of the person's departure.

The Canadian government requires an annual phone call ... so who knows who is calling!

The wonders of e-banking and e-transfers.

Note
If the person to whom you wish to leave your money resides in VN, and you want to avoid complications, give your ATM name & access information to that person. I gave the login information to a friend and the ATM to my wife (with her consent). Upon my death together they can empty my account.

Banks freeze accounts as soon as they learn of an account holders death. But if the money is gone ...

Jaitch...understand what you are saying...I have no intentions of returning to the states...They wanted an address...I gave them an address...I move around all the time and have no 'residence'.  Have not had for 8 years now...as to complying to 'check in' once a month...not a big problem.  Will need to come back and change clothes sometime...as to the funds...I remove all and place elsewhere from my US account...I have almost everything moved to a friend and NOT in my name to avoid complications from the start. Still not 'married'...tks

socorsotony :

I have almost everything moved to a friend and NOT in my name to avoid complications from the start. Still not 'married'...tks

I understand.

No harm in a little post mortem (after death) fraud.

It just takes a little planning, shame to let the banks and big government get your money. They take enough already.here was a case in Canada where they paid a pension (Minimum #10,000 odd per year) where the stiff kept on getting his pension for 11 years or so!

Actually tens of Foreigners die in VN each year so it is always worth taking precautions.

Remember, the average road kill rate in TP HCM is three per day.

How can there be 'fraud'...there is nothing in my name.  As to my personal account...they have my written permission to access as well as being noted on the account to the bank...with their 'big red seal' as proof...As to the continuing of such funds...don't think so.  The bank would close down my account due to specific actions that would 'red flag' the account due to more than one strange transaction and no comment as to why...pre-arranged.

It's simple. Get some job in Viet Nam ( e.g., teaching English) and let the English school resolve visa problems. Arrange to have the paper check by mail (sent to US Embassy (Hanoi) or consulate (HCMC). A more creative way is to rent a small cheap room in Bangkok for a year, then rent a P.O. box at the G.P.T. Bangkok. Rent it for a year. While in Bangkok arrange with Bangkok Bank to open an account in your name for the sole purpose of receiving your Social Security benefit by direct deposit (direct deposit is available in Thailand, but only with Bangkok Bank). You are working in Viet Nam most of the year, but return to Bangkok periodically to get cash out of your account and pick up mail. Your official address is in Bangkok.

johnmosbrook :

It's simple. Get some job in Viet Nam ( e.g., teaching English) and let the English school resolve visa problems. Arrange to have the paper check by mail (sent to US Embassy (Hanoi) or consulate (HCMC). A more creative way is to rent a small cheap room in Bangkok for a year, then rent a P.O. box at the G.P.T. Bangkok. Rent it for a year. While in Bangkok arrange with Bangkok Bank to open an account in your name for the sole purpose of receiving your Social Security benefit by direct deposit (direct deposit is available in Thailand, but only with Bangkok Bank). You are working in Viet Nam most of the year, but return to Bangkok periodically to get cash out of your account and pick up mail. Your official address is in Bangkok.

There is no longer a need to get creative with SS here in Vietnam. The restrictions were lifted back in November.

Rick

Thread resurrection time!

(Well it is just past easter).

All true.  (?)

..but as a (very) wise person once advised,

'Just as fish must never leave the deep,  the true ruler must never reveal his weapons'

..and the old adage that  'out of sight: out of mind'  might be appropriate too...

Your own security is your responsibility.

I am currently residing in the Sheraton foyer as an aspidistra plant.

My chief weapon is surprise...surprise and fear...fear and surprise....

er, My two weapons are fear and surprise...and ruthless efficiency....

Er, my *three* weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency...and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope....

Er, My *four*...no... er.... *Amongst* my weapons.... Amongst our weaponry...are such elements as fear, surprise....Ruthless efficiency and an almost fanatical devotion to pizza.

Er, oh never mind.

Matt: Master of devious minds...

What!!??   ..Never Mind!!??      (Never say Never)

Any self-respecting Pizza-eating plant is probably just that: a plant.   And a minder..?

..Supreme is your fav. choice, right?    (Spot on!)

..installed in secret by the Social Security people to check on dole bludgers (living it up at the Sheraton, no less...)     Good work Matt.    Where would we be without you..?

But (yet again) you have blown your cover.  So much for the surprise.   Fear is integral with the yoke of guilt we all carry in return for being degenerate, and your ruthless efficiency is Legend.                                       Some might suggest Lazy...    But No, I wasn't there either...

Again, I would suggest your potential is being wasted.     Plant it somewhere else where us minions  can admire it without being dropped from the threads...?    Please?

Meanwhile, we worship your wit.                      :thanks:

I'd moved on before posting that. I am now seconded to Paris as a ladies bicycle seat.

I can't tell you exactly where .....

Damn!    ..and here was me thinking of April 1st...   Curses!   Foiled (yet) again...     :mad:

April? Ah yes, my birthday month. - And the month that I shall spend one day wit a hangover  :huh:

I'm US citizen and planning to live on SS in Vietnam. Can someone help me with latest info regarding SS in VN:
1. Should I have SS benefit direct deposit to my US bank and transfer to Vietnamese bank? What is the transfer fee? Is there better way to do this?
2. Can I get the SS benefit check from US embassy in Vietnam and how often?
3. Is there restriction on how long I can stay in Vietnam and have to come back to US?

Thanks,

I have my SS deposited to my US  bank and will use Transferwise to move money to my Viet bank account.

I don't know about embassy. Probably an unnecessary complication.

As a U.S. citizen, you can stay abroad for as long as you wish and always have the right to return. CBP officers must admit a U.S. citizen. That's true even if you were to visit a country where U.S. law restricts travel, such as North Korea or Cuba.
Unlike permanent residents, U.S. citizens need not maintain a residence in the United States.
At one time a naturalized U.S. citizen had to maintain U.S. residence for a certain period after naturalizing. No longer. Congress repealed those laws. You could stay abroad for the rest of your life and remain a U.S. citizen.

CuriousG :

1. Should I have SS benefit direct deposit to my US bank

That's what I and many retired Americans on this forum do. Works great.

CuriousG :

and transfer to Vietnamese bank? What is the transfer fee?

So far I haven't needed to open a Vietnamese bank account. The only reason I can fathom is if I ever have to move a big chunk of dough at one time, like to buy a house. But if I am buying from a development, I'm pretty sure I can just transfer it to their bank instead.

Some foreigners have had trouble transferring their money out of Vietnamese banks when they leave the country. Be very careful that the money trail is well documented. No cash deposits for example.

Vietnamese interest paying accounts pay better interest than US banks. US currency has been slowly gaining in value over VND. Then inflation is higher here which hurts the VND. Considering the tradeoffs, I am conservative, and sleep better with my funds in the US.

CuriousG :

Is there better way to do this?

I transfer all my living expenses as needed using ATMs, which dispense VND. Rent, food, etc except at bigger stores and for airplane tickets, I use my 2% refunded US credit card. I pay that from my US bank account using the bank and credit card websites. Charles Schwab has the best US bank accounts for expats. Search this forum for "Schwab" for old stories.

CuriousG :

2. Can I get the SS benefit check from US embassy in Vietnam and how often?

Dunno. How often? Check comes monthly, right? It would be a pain in the neck too: parking, high security at US consulate/embassy, queues. Then go deposit at Viet bank, wonder how long that takes to clear?

CuriousG :

3. Is there restriction on how long I can stay in Vietnam

Visas have different terms (in time limits) and terms (in rules). Search for "visa" for complicated answers. But I haven't heard of anyone who said they weren't allowed to live here anymore, as long as they kept renewing their visa.

CuriousG :

and have to come back to US?

Jim-Minh has a good answer.

Same as Gobot, we have our pension and SS direct deposit to Schwab (no monthly fee, no minimum balance).  I used to have accounts with 2 banks here but closed them both when we realised there's no need for us to keep our money in a Vietnam bank even for a short period of time.  We simply withdraw money at any ATM we come across, at any time we wish.  Schwab reimburses ATM fees no matter how many times you use the service.  Daily limit is $1000/day ($2000 if you submit a request for higher limit). 

AFAIK, all SS services for expats in Asia are in Manila now.

As Jim-MInh said, a US citizenship is for life no matter where you live or how long you live away from the US.  You do need to have a physical address for US banking, however.  We use our daughter's contact info in CA.

The length of time you can stay in Vietnam depends on your visa.  Remember, even long term visa (5 year VEC) requires you to exit and re-enter the country every 6 months, or pay for a new stamp.

This sticky thread...

https://www.expat.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=761380

...has latest Social Security info, with mostly active links that regularly update on the government site.

Important to note: in order to Direct Deposit Social Security payments in Vietnam, the deposit must be in Vietnamese Dong (Social Security rule: read all posts through that link).

According to banks I've asked, in order to open an account here for Vietnamese dong deposits, you need at least either temporary residence status or a business visa with a signed contract and a housing lease. There may be other ways, but unless you can qualify for a Vietnamese bank account allowing deposits in VND, that's not an option.

Here is a link to our EXHAUSTIVE discussion about using the ATM system here (my personal choice):

https://www.expat.com/forum/viewtopic.p … 73&p=2

As far as the Embassy pick up for checks, I don't know this for a fact, but it's my understanding that will be phased out and Direct Deposit (in Việt Nam or U.S.A) will be your only option in the near future.

As long as you are a citizen of the U.S. you can be out of the country indefinitely. There are restrictions for non-citizens.

It is becoming more and more obvious that the Schwab/ATM method is the way to fund living expenses in Vietnam.

Jim-Minh :

It is becoming more and more obvious that the Schwab/ATM method is the way to fund life in Vietnam.

I received my monthly Schwab ATM fee rebate for October: $60.72 USD

For those using Schwab. Make sure you dont tell them your moving out of the country. They have an International Account they will try to put you into. Its the exact same thing with free ATM fees but requires 20K to open the international account.
I was only asked one time, as I always put in a travel notice for the country I will be going to. I had been in Colombia for 2 years and they asked if I had moved there. I said no, I was here for work and some day after my work contract expired I would be back. That was sufficient and never asked again. That was 5 years ago.
I do have a mailing address in the US I use for banking, credit cards, SS and Pension.

I do not live in Vietnam but I am a retired expat American. I have my SSA checks deposited to an American bank and I use a zero-foreign transaction fee credit card for my daily expenses. I assume Schwab provides that without the $95 annual fee, or so I have heard, but when I arranged all this I could not get them to open an account for me (YMWV, I'm sure, but I made all my SSA arrangements--including opening a Citi account for them--from outside the States). Why am I responding to a Vietnam question? Because I spent USD11K in HCMC recently on serious dental medical tourism. The dentist accepted a direct transfer in USD. One hotel tried to charge me 3% on credit card payments but I negotiated that away. Cabs take credit cards but if I recall correctly that does not apply to Grab. So I exchanged some physical dollar bills at Western Union and that costs about 3% (it would be 6% if I used the credit card for that there). Nonetheless, altogether, I got excellent exchange rates on the vast majority of my spending.

NHLFAN :

For those using Schwab. Make sure you dont tell them your moving out of the country.
I was only asked one time, as I always put in a travel notice for the country I will be going to. I had been in Colombia for 2 years and they asked if I had moved there. I said no, I was here for work and some day after my work contract expired I would be back. That was sufficient and never asked again.

We opened the account while living in the States, but we told them that we would be moving overseas.  They accepted that, with a proviso that we maintained a physical address and contact phone number in the US.  They asked us to treat our move as an open ended trip with consecutive 90 day travel notices online for as long as we're away. 

We went one step further: we authorised our daughter and son in law (both of them our lawyers) to be Account Managers with full power to act on our behalf.  Their address and phone number are used as ours.  Schwab legal department signed off all documents, together with our and our children's signatures.  Everything was/is on record.

NHLFAN :

For those using Schwab. Make sure you dont tell them your moving out of the country. They have an International Account they will try to put you into. Its the exact same thing with free ATM fees but requires 20K to open the international account.
I was only asked one time, as I always put in a travel notice for the country I will be going to. I had been in Colombia for 2 years and they asked if I had moved there. I said no, I was here for work and some day after my work contract expired I would be back. That was sufficient and never asked again. That was 5 years ago.
I do have a mailing address in the US I use for banking, credit cards, SS and Pension.

Schwab likes to hear the term "extended travel".

Also, minimum on the International account is now $25,000.00

Travel notices for Schwab can now be initiated and updated through the smartphone app. No need to call them.

However, I noticed that calling their toll-free number through my SKYPE app is a "free" call.

Cheldan :

I do not live in Vietnam but I am a retired expat American. I have my SSA checks deposited to an American bank and I use a zero-foreign transaction fee credit card for my daily expenses. I assume Schwab provides that without the $95 annual fee, or so I have heard, but when I arranged all this I could not get them to open an account for me (YMWV, I'm sure, but I made all my SSA arrangements--including opening a Citi account for them--from outside the States). Why am I responding to a Vietnam question? Because I spent USD11K in HCMC recently on serious dental medical tourism. The dentist accepted a direct transfer in USD. One hotel tried to charge me 3% on credit card payments but I negotiated that away. Cabs take credit cards but if I recall correctly that does not apply to Grab. So I exchanged some physical dollar bills at Western Union and that costs about 3% (it would be 6% if I used the credit card for that there). Nonetheless, altogether, I got excellent exchange rates on the vast majority of my spending.

The Schwab Visa Debit Card has no foreign transaction fees and there is no monthly or annual fee to have one. However, I recommend NOT using it for credit-type (POS - Point of Sale) transactions, because if it is compromised, it directly accesses your cash balance.

I only use mine for ATM withdrawals, and then all normal ATM fees are rebated once a month.

I use a low-limit Discover Card and a U.S. Bank Mastercard (both with no foreign transaction fees) for any credit card purchases here, but the casual reader should know that CASH is still King here, especially since--legally--many transactions are required to be in Vietnamese Đồng, and many of us don't have a Đồng bank account for transfers to landlords, etc.

Schwab Bank no longer has an associated credit  card, but there are Schwab credit card options linked to a brokerage account some of which do have fees.

GRAB is only approved for use in five (?) regions of Việt Nam. A non-Việt Nam card cannot be used to fund a GrabPay account (where you keep a balance and use that as a PAYMENT SOURCE to pay for rides) but a non-Việt Nam based credit card can be linked to the GRAB app and used a per-ride payment source.

Here is a thread with info and links regarding the latest GRAB changes:

Lucky me. I have never given a travel notice to Schwab and the ATM card has always worked in 4 countries so far.  Except when the magstripe broke. I used to do online travel notices for my two credit card providers, but they both said don't bother after I got new chip cards.

FYI - the Schwab One Brokerage account has a credit/debit card, but there are -0- fees associated with it.  In addition, the ATM fees are reimbursed the same day you withdraw money from an ATM, not monthly.  Finally, you can put a travel notice in the account via the app or via internet through your account online. 

FYI - if you need to speak with Schwab in the USA, they have toll free numbers for most countries, including VN.  I have used them and it helps when you need to talk to someone in the States.

vndreamer :

FYI - the Schwab One Brokerage account has a credit/debit card, but there are -0- fees associated with it.  In addition, the ATM fees are reimbursed the same day you withdraw money from an ATM, not monthly.  Finally, you can put a travel notice in the account via the app or via internet through your account online. 

FYI - if you need to speak with Schwab in the USA, they have toll free numbers for most countries, including VN.  I have used them and it helps when you need to talk to someone in the States.

Incorrect

OceanBeach92107 :
vndreamer :

FYI - the Schwab One Brokerage account has a credit/debit card, but there are -0- fees associated with it.  In addition, the ATM fees are reimbursed the same day you withdraw money from an ATM, not monthly.  Finally, you can put a travel notice in the account via the app or via internet through your account online. 

FYI - if you need to speak with Schwab in the USA, they have toll free numbers for most countries, including VN.  I have used them and it helps when you need to talk to someone in the States.

Incorrect

Based on what?  Everything I stated is a fact, based on my 26 years of having this account with Schwab.   It is possible you have a different type of account.

Incorrect - làm sao?

How is it incorrect? - How can  we learn from this?

I am compiling a manual on how to get along in Vietnam. Some of what it contains is what I read here and some is from my experience and the rest is how my Viet family has helped me cope with life in Vietnam.

I've compiled a great list of items I will take with me on this final trip. I've gleaned items from many previous trips and from online lists.

I really hate to leave my chemistry lab behind as well as my electronics lab.

Question - how difficult is it to connect with IT types?  How do you make contact with computer science students?

jim-minh - i suggest you call Schwab and ask about the different accounts they offer as there are many with different features.  I chose the Schwab One account because it provides the flexibility I was looking for 26 years ago and still applies today.  You must have an investment to open the account and a mutual fund is sufficient.  You are not required to trade, but you must have an investment.  I transferred my mutual funds in the account, no problem.  Then it also acts like a checking account as you can write checks, make deposits, wire money out and in, etc. just like a checking account.  The debit/credit card that was issued actually acts like both, but is more of a debit card since it takes money available from your account.  When it is used for purchases, it is used as a credit card.  But when you do ATM withdrawals, it is used as a debit card.   

It all depends on what you need.  Call Schwab and talk to them because there are differences between the various accounts they offer.

vndreamer :

I chose the Schwab One account because it provides the flexibility I was looking for 26 years ago and still applies today.  You must have an investment to open the account and a mutual fund is sufficient.  You are not required to trade, but you must have an investment.  I transferred my mutual funds in the account, no problem. Then it also acts like a checking account as you can write checks, make deposits, wire money out and in, etc. just like a checking account.

You don't need to have an investment anymore, although you still have to open a Brokerage account in order to have an Investor Checking account.  Together, the two accounts make up the misnomer Schwab One Brokerage account.

The Brokerage account is considered your primary account even though it's only a formality, you don't need to keep "real" money in it unless you're an investor.  We opened it with a whopping $1 deposit.

The ironically named Investor Checking is where we direct deposit our pension and SS, also the account that we use for electronic bill payment without ever spending a penny in any investments.

They also offered us Schwab AmEx (the blue no-annual-fee-but-with-foreign-transaction-fee AmEx Investor, not the grey no-foreign-transaction-fee-but-with-big-annual-fee AmEx Platinum) in addition to the Visa-cum-debit card.

Unless you're a spendthrift, blue AmEx (with points) is always a better deal even with foreign transaction fee.

That is why I suggest calling Schwab because I know the accounts, fees, services etc. change over time.

vndreamer :

That is why I suggest calling Schwab because I know the accounts, fees, services etc. change over time.

https://www.schwab.com/public/schwab/investing/accounts_products/investment/cash_solutions

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