Social Security and Pension

Collecting Social Security or Canadian Pension in Lake Chapala

If you already receive an American or Canadian pension, you probably receive it by direct deposit. This applies whether it is a private pension or government, generally Social Security or Canadian Pension/Quebec Pension. If you are presently receiving payment by mail, I urge you to set up direct deposit to your home bank prior to making a move to any foreign country. There is too much uncertainty with surface delivery, creating delays and the possibility of loss. By direct deposit, you can make withdrawals on the deposit date from almost any ATM in Mexico just as you would in the USA or Canada.

By Direct Deposit

Using direct deposit requires that you have an ATM card for each person authorized access to your account. I have lived and worked in both the USA and Canada, and I learned that my Canadian bank will not mail a replacement ATM card outside Canadian borders – too high a risk – so you will need the Canadian address of a relative or friend you trust to forward your mail in a separate envelope. My US bank, however, sends a replacement card to my Mail Boxes Etc. address in Texas (still within the US), and it always comes through prior to the expiration date on the old card.

Calling the 1-800 number from Mexico in order to activate the new card will cost you a few pennies, however. You don’t actually call 1-800. You call 001-800 to reach either Canada or the US. If you have a TelMex telephone package deal (local land line calls plus long distance to the US for up to 200 minutes per month plus high speed internet service), your calls are free unless you exceed the limit. Calls to Canada will cost, unfortunately, so make those calls with one eye on the clock. I have called Canada for CPP/OAS, my bank and my daughter and never gone broke even with a tight budget at times. Access is essential when you live at a distance, but cost is manageable.

Do not carry your ATM card in your wallet as a standard rule. How much can you afford to lose if it falls into the wrong hands? What about Identity Theft? And how long can you do without pocket cash if it’s lost? Carry it only when you will use it that day or when you are traveling. Remember, an ATM card is a debit card and lacks the safety features of a credit card. However, should you lose a card, some banks will mail a replacement by air within a couple of days after your call.


Receiving by Check

canadian pension formAs to mail, you can receive mail at your Mexican address or the local Mexican post office, or you can take out an account with Mail Boxes Etc. (MBE) or other similar mail service that ships mail from a border point to a location close to you. Lakeside we have two such services: MBE and Handymail. Handymail does not handle parcels but MBE does, something to consider.

So having your SS checks mailed to you directly is also an option. You can cash them at several banks here at Lakeside but some might take a few weeks to clear so it is up to you if you decide to receive by check and wait out the hold period.

So yes, you can still receive your retirement benefits in Mexico, but mail and checks is not the best option.


Wiring Money

There is always the option to wire money each month or every few months. Once you have a bank in Mexico, as long as you maintain a savings or investment account worth more than the amount of your monthly cheque/check*, they should accept that deposit without any hold period, and it should happen at no cost to you. Ask for the best services to suit your needs when you talk to Mexican banks and investment houses prior to opening an account, or change over to a facility that provides what you need.

Even if your Social Security or CPP/QPP is only, let’s say, $1000 per month, that’s somewhere between $10,000 and $14,000 pesos per month, and a healthy deposit each month is what a Mexican bank wants to see. Negotiate, and minimize bank fees. And, yes. Build savings here in Mexico. As we age, we need that.

* Canadian spelling is “cheque” whereas “check” is American.

More Resources For US and Canadian Pensions:

By Kay Davis, Team Writer

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