After a long process of proving the hours working in China, I finally got my benefits. I applied at 63 and took a lower amount, earlier. After applying in my home town, I was turned over to an office in Manila, in the Philippines for processing. Apparently one office specializes in the Asia applications. The law requires that I NOT work more than 48 hours a month overseas to be eligible, and I was able to document that. I received my checks via direct deposit in the USA.
I was sent a form to fill out detailing any changes in my employment status. This was about six months after qualifying. I was in the USA shortly after getting the form, so I went to my home town SS office. They said that they knew nothing about the form, and that there was no record of anything being sent to me. They said not to worry . . . BIG MISTAKE.
My checks stopped about six months later and after digging into it further, I found a rule that said I MUST file the form, or my payments WILL stop. The moral of the story is twofold: 1) File the forms that they ask you to file, and 2) Don’t go to your local SS office for info about Expat benefits. Manila is the office that handles it, and a local office will probably not know anything about it !
PS: As soon as I filed the form, the benefits resumed, and an extra deposit was made for the delayed check.