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United States of America (USA) - Retirement

Retirement takes some forward planning and more so if you’re planning retirement in a foreign country. The regulations on retirement in the US depend on a number of factors and the rules can be hard to follow and understand. If you’ve planned well for your retirement then you should be able to manage financially, however, if you’ve lived and worked in the US, you could well be entitled to a state pension from the US Department of Social Security.

Retirement Age

Retirement age is now considered a personal matter in the US but the state retirement age can begin at the age of 62-years old. This is the earliest age you can claim retirement benefit from the Department of Social Security. The earlier you claim the less the amount will be on a monthly basis from the department.

This handy retirement planner from the Department of Social Security will give you guidelines currently in place:

You are able to work past retirement and still can claim some benefits if you have a social security number and have had an eligible working visa for your working life in the US. If you are retiring to the US from another country, then even having a social security number at the time of your visa application may not entitle you to an American retirement benefit. This is particularly so if you have not worked and paid into the system via a direct salary.

The State Pension Scheme

The USA state pension scheme works on the basis of contribution-based earnings which are taken directly from your salary before it is paid to you. Your employer’s payroll department will arrange the deductions from your salary at the standard rate set based upon your earnings.

Private Pension Schemes in the USA

Private pension schemes have been a popular choice of retirement provision in the USA since World War II when life began to become affluent and markets such as the insurance market began to open up the idea of private pension schemes. The most common plan in the USA is that of an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) and contributions are made regularly with limits set in place by the IRS.

There are a number of other schemes available on a private basis and these again have some restrictions from the IRS on how much you can contribute. You will then have your pension pot to be opened on your retirement date and this will give you an income during your retirement. These are known as private pensions and then the usual course of action is that you will use the pension pot to buy a regular monthly income and draw this down as a monthly salary and providing you have purchased the correct annuity, you will have enough money to live on for the rest of your life.

Expats who retire in the USA

Some countries enable you to take your state pension from your native country and take it into the country you’re now resident in. For example, the United Kingdom will pay your UK state pension to you while resident in the USA. You may be liable for some tax in the US on this amount particularly if you have other income coming in and you’re a citizen of the USA. Taxes for American citizens never go away and do seem much harsher than for other developed nations. You will be paying them for the rest of your life.

Retiring in the USA is an attractive option for many expats and warmer areas such as Florida are popular with Europeans. There are no specific government schemes available for expats; however, there are attractive retirement homes available for purchase by foreigners. It is wise to seek advice from an independent financial advisor before choosing such a route.

The quality of life for retired people who have planned well for their retirement can be of an extremely high standard. Florida has warmer weather and there is a vast range of activities for those who live there with growing numbers of older people choosing to retire to the USA as the cost of living is much cheaper than in Europe.

Florida is one of the hotspots for Europeans to move to because of cheaper property prices and because of the warm climate which helps with ailments such as chronic arthritis and rheumatic conditions that can be problematic in a damper environment.

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Expat Health Insurance Partners


Cigna has worked in international health insurance for more than 30 years. Today, Cigna has over 71 million customer relationships around the world. Looking after them is an international workforce of 31,000 people, plus a network of over 1 million hospitals, physicians, clinics and health and wellness specialists worldwide, meaning you have easy access to treatment.

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