Applying for United States Social Security benefits while living in Ireland
Yes you can. You can collect your United States Social Security benefits while living in Ireland.
It's a question many people ask, and is often the topic of chit-chat among Americans who are researching the prospect of retiring in Ireland. As I am not of retirement age I don't have any personal experience with the process. Neither do I know somebody locally who claims Social Security while living in Ireland who I can talk to for more information. However I do spend time on other expat blogs and forums, and I did get in touch with one lady who lives in Ireland who recently filed the necessary paperwork and received her first Social Security payment. She wasn't willing to answer a list of questions I had prepared, but she did offer the following information: "It was the same process as if one lives in the USA. I filled out the online application and all they wanted was verification of my Irish bank account so there would be no errors. A piece of cake."
To facilitate the payment of U.S. Social Security benefits outside the United States, bilateral Social Security agreements are in place with 25 countries, of which Ireland is one. The complete text of the agreements and a summary of each can be found on official Social Security website at this link.
From there, the Totalization Agreement with Ireland page should have answers to most of your questions, however if you need more information then you can contact the Federal Benefits Unit of the USA Embassy at:
Federal Benefits Unit
Embassy of the United States of America
Dublin 4, Ireland
PH: + 353 1 6688777
EXT: 2112 - Mornings Only
FAX: + 353 1 6687245
To apply online for Social Security benefits (retirement and disability) visit http://www.ssa.gov/foreign/
Social security card image credit: Flickr/armydre2008