Yes, Virginia, you can receive your U.S. social security benefits while you're in Malta.
But here are the facts: If you’re an American, you won’t be able to retire here in Malta unless you have a lot of money--or have been here long enough to achieve long-term residency in which you have to prove—every five years--that you have the means to support yourself here.
1. The USD is in very bad shape. Every time you transfer your pension, social security or investment income over to Malta, you lose a good percentage of it when it is exchanged for Euros.
2. You will need private health insurance here in Malta since you will not be eligible for the national health insurance in Malta—unless you’ve been here long before retirement, have worked long enough (at least 15 years) to receive a minimal pension and are, therefore, eligible for the national health insurance.
Medicare will not cover you in the Malta or anywhere else in Europe. It will only cover you in the US.
If you first apply for private insurance in Malta at retirement age, you may get rejected because of your age. If you’re not rejected outright, you will not get covered for any pre-existing condition—be it a minor or major condition.
There are some Americans who can retire in Malta through something called permanent residency or the residency scheme. But you have to prove your financial status every year—which is based on the Euro. For more info on this, please see:
I don’t know any way around this if you’re the average American retiree. So you’re probably thinking—what are my plans for retiring here as an American? The answer is that I don’t know. With G-d’s help, I hope I’m able to work long enough here to qualify for some benefits.
It’s another story if you’re from another EU nation. In that event—except for those from the UK—you’re earning and paying the Euro—so you won’t have any losses from exchanging money.
You also are most likely eligible for national health insurance here or through your coverage from your country of origin.
It’s certainly not cheap to retire in Malta. But you have a better chance of doing it if you’re already from the EU.