Retiring Overseas? What You Need to Know About Getting Benefits Abroad

retire-overseasThere are a number of people who choose to live their retirement years in places outside of the United States. Perhaps retirement in Thailand or Portugal is in your plans. Maybe you plan to split your year between Central Europe and Central Asia. In many cases, it’s still possible to receive your retirement benefits while living abroad. Our website can help you navigate your benefit eligibility while living overseas.

If you’ve worked in both the United States and another country, it may be possible for your credits to combine for a larger benefit. Currently, there are 25 countries with such international agreements with the United States. To find out if you have qualifying work in a country with such an agreement, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/international.

You can receive benefits in many countries. To find out whether you can receive your benefits in the country where you are retiring, you should use our Payments Abroad Screening Tool at www.socialsecurity.gov/international/payments_outsideUS_page10.html.

There are easy ways to get in touch with us and report changes to Social Security if you live overseas. You can contact your local U.S. embassy, write to us by mail, or call us at 1-800-772-1213. You can find other information in regards to living overseas at www.socialsecurity.gov/foreign.

facebooktwitterlinkedin

78 thoughts on “Retiring Overseas? What You Need to Know About Getting Benefits Abroad

  1. I receive benefits from ss I live half n half overseas n here …widow then remarried overseas ..I was on ss disability then I guess they switched me over cause the age to regular ss….so I’m reading this article about possibly getting more is my question?
    Thank u

    • No you don’t get more. Once you start taking SSDI it stays at that rate and just changes into regular Social Security retirement when you hit your full retirement age, same as if you took early retirement.

    • Do not for any reason let them know that you are getting a pension from another country,is another way to control you and for that country to reduce your benefits-for example if you move to Italy and you getting SS benefits but you entitled to get benefits from Italy too (from working there before you moved to USA) if they find out you;re getting benefits from USA will reduce your Italian benefits to minimum and even denied benefits for good…

      • The United States has bilateral Social Security agreements with 26 countries. International Social Security agreements, often called “Totalization agreements,” help assure continuity of benefit protection for persons who have acquired Social Security credits under the system of the United States and the system of another country. Please visit our Office of International Programs home page for the most accurate information and an overview of the International Agreements. Thanks!

  2. Im 59 years old in disability since 2001. If i reached age 62 they just switched my ssdi benefits to social security? Pls. Advise. Thank you

    • Hi Rod. When you receive disability benefits under the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program, we will automatically convert your disability benefits to retirement benefits, when you attain your Full Retirement Age. The benefit amount will generally remain the same.

      • Thank you for your response. Greatly appreciated. Is that means Im under SSDI until I reach my full retirement age of 66 years old and 6 months.

        Please advise

        Rod

        • Yes Rod, we will automatically convert your disability benefits to retirement benefits. Your benefit amount remains the same. Thanks!

  3. I am a US Citizen, who worked in Sydney Australia for American Companies during 1970 to 1976. I paid the appropriate income taxes and medical retirement taxes while living and working in Australia.

    Have I earned any credits that should be reported to the Social Security System here in the United States ?

    • Great question Bruce. If we need to count your credits under the Australian system to help you qualify for a U.S. benefit, we will get the necessary information directly from Australia when you apply for benefits. However, you will need to provide evidence of the periods when you worked in Australia or were covered by Australia’s SG legislation. The Australian authorities will provide us with a certification of the periods they can verify.
      Please visit our International Programs web page to learn more about the Totalization Agreement between the United States and Australia. We hope this information helps.

  4. After many years of working, my spouse received approval for disability and was receiving checks for a couple of years. Now she has successfully returned to work, and those checks are stopping soon. She is currently 59 and plans to work until 65. How does this period on disability affect her retirement SS payment?

    • Thank you for your question Kurt. A period of disability, if used to compute a beneficiary’s retirement benefits, could have a reduction effect on his or her future benefits. This is because a disabled individual, generally has little or no earnings during a period of disability. We refer to a period of disability for a worker as a “disability freeze”. To prevent the reduction or loss of future benefits, a disability freeze eliminates the years of low earnings due to disability when computing benefit amounts for certain Social Security benefits.
      The disability freeze provisions, in effect, ignore periods of disability when computing a retirement benefit. Thus, the individual is “held-harmless” as far their potential entitlement to other types of Social Security benefits. We hope this information helps.

  5. I am a US citizen, 73 yrs old, I worked in US for 30 yrs. and now staying in the Philippines for my retirement, the SS health care provider doesn’t cover retirees here, just wondering the citizens of Guam have health care provider that cover them if they need to be hospitalized here in the Philippines, same with the US embassy employees. Just wondering why can’t we have same benefit. I would like to enjoy the rest of my retirement years with peace of mind. Please reply i will appreciate your honest response. Thanks

    • Guam is a US territory and hence the citizens there are covered for healthcare in Philippines. But if they retire and then seek healthcare in the Philippines they will be denied. Embassy employees is a different cadre altogether. They are covered wherever they are posted while they are on active duty. That is my understanding.

    • Hi Reynaldo, according to current regulations, Medicare is not available outside the United States (U.S.) because, Medicare is a health insurance program administered by the United States (U.S.) Federal Government and is based on residence in the United States and it’s territories. For more information about Medicare visit http://www.medicare.gov.

  6. If I go for one month out of usa I know I don’t need to inform SS Office but on that time if I fill sick and can not come back, do I have to inform office on arrival or something else to do?

  7. I am leaving for Singapore/ Malaysia in a week. Will be there for three weeks. Will I be covered by Medicare while there?

    • Thanks for your question, Robert. Medicare coverage outside the United States is limited. Generally, Medicare does not cover health care while you are outside the United States. Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands are considered part of the United States. To learn more about Medicare coverage outside of the United States, go to https://www.medicare.gov/Pubs/pdf/11037.pdf. We hope this helps.

    • Under certain circumstances, special extra earnings for your military service from 1957 through 2001 can be credited to your record for Social Security purposes. These extra earnings credits may help you qualify for Social Security or increase the amount of your Social Security benefit. Special extra earnings credits are granted for periods of active duty or active duty for training. They are not granted for inactive duty training.
      For service in 1957 through 1977, you are credited with $300 in additional earnings for each calendar quarter in which you received active duty basic pay. For service in 1978 through 2001, for every $300 in active duty basic pay, you are credited with an additional $100 in earnings up to a maximum of $1,200 a year. For more information, visit our Retirement Planner page at http://www.ssa.gov/retire2/military.htm. Hope this helps!

  8. I am 62 years old and plan on applying for an early SS benefit due to an health issue. Plan on applying online 01 Nov 2016. When can I start receiving benefit.?

    • Thank you for your question Erlinda. Our system is set up to take applications three months in advance, you can apply for your retirement benefits online now. Remember that benefits are paid the month after they are due. So, for instance, if you want your benefits to begin with the month of November, you will receive your first benefit payment in December. If you need further assistance call our toll free number, 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) and ask to speak with one of our representatives, who are available Monday through Friday between 7:00am and 7:00pm. We hope this helps!

  9. SSA will deduct Medicare premium from my retirement check when I am 65 years old ? because I live in south america and Medicare is not good overseas and besides I do not need it. I am 64 years old. Do I have to decline medicare when I am 65 years old, or I do not have to worry about it? Because SSA will not deduct anything from my check since I am living overseas, am I correct?

    • Hi Guillermo. Generally, individuals already receiving Social Security benefits, and becoming eligible for Medicare, will be automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medical Insurance).
      You’re right, in most situations, Medicare won’t pay for health care or supplies you get outside the U.S. Also, Medicare Part B is optional. Beneficiaries may refuse the coverage and if they file a written notification before the coverage starts, we always consider this a timely refusal. Timely refusals do not incur premium charges. While we make every effort to notify beneficiaries living outside the United States of their eligibility to Medicare, we recommend that you contact your local U.S. embassy or consulate at least 3 months before your 65th birthday for further assistance. We hope this information helps!

      • “Generally, individuals already receiving Social Security benefits, and becoming eligible for Medicare, will be automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medical Insurance).”

        This is incorrect.
        Plan B (Medical Insurance) is not automatic enrollment. This is what I thought and when making a Plan B claim It was denied. On top of that I am being penalized
        For not being enrolled a 65.

        • You’re right John, if you already get Social Security benefits, we’ll automatically enroll you in Medicare Hospital Insurance (Part A) and Medical Insurance (Part B). However, because you must pay a premium for Part B coverage, you have the option of turning it down. Also, if you or your spouse are actively working and you are covered under an employer’s group health insurance program, you can delay enrollment into Medicare Part B until you stop working or the health coverage is dropped. However, we suggest that individuals speak to their health benefits advisor, or health plan representative to see what’s best for them, and to prevent any penalties or delayed enrollment in the future. To learn more about the Medicare enrollment periods visit http://www.Medicare.gov.

  10. It is a shame such small COLA, or it any increase, while my COL will one day pass my benefits, and I will be forced to live in a cheaper country. Shame on our country!
    “You can’t get rich in politics unless you’re a crook.”
    — Harry S. Truman
    (1884-1972), 33rd US President

    “The measure of a man’s character is what he would do
    if he knew he never would be found out.”
    — Thomas Babington Macaulay
    (1800-1859)

    “No legacy is so rich as honesty.”
    — William Shakespeare
    (1564-1616) Playwright
    Source: All’s Well That Ends Well.

    Google: Judi Grace StoryCorps.

  11. I was in the Navy 20 yrs, retired. I am retiring next yr 2016 after 20 yrs as a law enforcement officer but they did not take out ssn there. Is it true that my ssn will be cut in half because my 2nd job did not take out ssn?

    • Good question, Richard. A pension based on work that is not covered by Social Security (for example, Federal civil service and some State or local government agencies, such as police officers and some teachers) may cause the amount of your Social Security benefit to be reduced. Your own Social Security benefit can be reduced based on the Windfall Elimination Provision. Read more here.

  12. My spouse passed away 8 years ago, he collected his benefit when he was 66 but only for 4 months then he died, now I’m 61 years old and want to collect survivor benefit, I know I would be qualified for 76.3 of his benefit but I was wonder how is the benefit going to calculate. it’s base on his 70 or 66. In his case could we said he had volunteer suspend his benefit after 4 months. The original benefit is $1,772

  13. I married and moved to Brazil in 1999 and soon after that I suffered complications due to diabetes including heart surgery and blindness (legally blind). I keep myself busy doing work over the internet, but we rely on my wife’s retirement to get by. I have never filed for disability and have not had an income statement for many years. the title of this page is “Retiring Overseas? What You Need to Know About Getting Benefits Abroad”. I went and followed the online tool. It asked if i am currently getting benefits, I checked no, the survey finished and did not answer the question! I will be 62 in March.

  14. I retired when i was 62 years old (early retirement age), I received 25 % less that i was suppossed to receive, I am 64 years old know , I want to know if my pension will increase by 25 % when i am 66 years old(full retirement age) or it will remain the same and it will only increase with the cola?

    • Hello Guillermo. The amount of benefits you receive is established at the time you applied for retirement benefits. It is based on the amount of your average lifetime earnings and your age at the time you applied. Reduction factors are permanently applied to all benefits an individual may qualify for, once they opt to start benefits at age 62 or at any time prior to their full retirement age. Your benefit amount will likely remain the same, except for yearly Cost Of Living Adjustments (COLA) increases.

  15. I retired when i was 62 years old, I want to know what will it happen if i get disable living overseas, can i apply for disability or since i am receiving my regular pension from SSA i will not be able to apply for disability?

    • Hi Guillermo. You can apply for Disability Benefits before you reach your full retirement age. Social Security pays only for total disability. We pay disability benefits to people under their full retirement age who are unable to work because of a medical condition that is expected to last one year or more or end in death. We can continue paying your retirement benefits while we consider your application for disability, and wait for a medical decision. For assistance related to your Social Security benefits, while living abroad, please contact your local U.S. embassy or consulate.

  16. I am receiving my pension from SSA in South America Lima Peru, SSA send me the money trough the BANK OF NEW YOR MELLON , that bank send the money to INTERBANK (PERUVIAN BANK) they have an agreement and the peruvian bank charge me $ 6 but since October 2016, the charge is $ 10, They say that this is an agreement between both banks, is this true? How can receive my pension with less charge? my pension is very low and every dollar counts. There is another way to avoid those charges living overseas?

  17. What can I buy with the $4.78 extra COLA raise I will get beginning in 2017? What a joke on us or is it an April Fools Joke?

    • 1 gallon of milk or a dozen eggs in California. sad state of affairs with all the increases in rent, food, property tax, etc. it leaves one wondering how they can spend all the money on people that never worked or contributed to our society but not the people that worked so hard to build our country and we never complained when it was put there for all Americans, I said Americans!!!!!!

  18. My husband and I are retired and thinking of moving out of the state of California to another state. We both are collecting social security after working over 30 years in California. Will we be able to transfer or receive social security benefits in another state and will there be a reduction in benefit amount?

    Thanks

    • Thank you for your question Victoria. Your Social Security retirement benefit is a federal administered program and is transferable to other states. Your benefit amount will not change if you move to another state. You can create a my Social Security account to manage your benefits and to change your address and direct deposit information online. we hope this helps!

  19. I retired in 2013 from the federal government with plenty of SSA credits then eventually moving to the Philippines in 2014.

    SSA has an outstanding overseas department processing/handling American citizens applications and answers any question related to marriage and/or having children. Moreover there’s a local SSA office here that makes life so much easier when it pertains to issues concerning SSA.

    I’m very happy with the service I’ve received thus far from SSA. Monthly benefits right on time.

    Thank you SSA for the excellent service for Americans living abroad.

    • Thanks for your feedback, Donald. Your thoughts are important to us and we’re pleased when feedback is positive. We try hard to provide the best possible service to our customers and your satisfaction is our reward.

  20. I am retired since June 2013 after the death of my husband, and moved to India to be with my family. I was emotionally very disturb then. I am 62 years now, still live in India with the help of my family. I wish to take my SS benefit at 65. In US, I use my daughters address for any correspondence as I cannot afford.
    Please guide me as to what should I do to get SS benefit at age 65. I am eligible for SS and Medicare.

    • I have another question, can I claim my SS benefit and still live in India? Do I have to apply for Medicare B plan? How much do they take as premium, if enrolled.

      At 62 if I take SS , it’s 25% less. Will it go up like 93% at age 65?

      Do you need overseas address or US address for correspond.

      • Hi Jessy. Yes, retirees who are U.S. citizens are entitled to continue receiving benefits for as long as they live outside the United States. However, citizens of other countries who receive Social Security may have some restrictions. The earliest age you can apply for reduced retirement benefits is 62. If a person begins to receive benefits at age 62 or prior to their full retirement age, their benefits are reduced. The reduction factors are permanently applied to all benefits an individual may qualify for once they opt to start benefits at age 62 or at any time prior to their full retirement age. Please keep in mind that while Social Security benefits are available to retirees in other countries, Medicare is not. Beneficiaries can only take advantage of Medicare Part B within the United States. All beneficiaries who elect to enroll in Medicare Part B must pay a premium, regardless of where they live. For any assistance related to your Social Security benefits, please contact your local U.S. embassy or consulate. Also, our Office of International Operations home page provides more information to assist our customers living abroad. We hope this information helps.

  21. Scenario: Person takes early retirement at age 62yo, then files for SS Disbility. SS Disability is awarded with an onset date of DOB 64yo.

    Question: At full retirement age will the retirement benefits be offset due to the prior early retirement benefits?

    • Hi Suzanne. Any “offset” or reduction will occur at the time disability benefits are established. Disability payments are established at the highest rate possible, meaning the individual will get the highest monthly benefit amount he or she is allowed to receive. When individuals attain their full retirement age, we will automatically convert their disability benefits to retirement benefits, the benefit amount remains the same. Please call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213 for further assistance. Representatives are available Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.

  22. Estoy retirada. En temprana edad 62 años..sigo trabajando un partime..y hago mis taxes todos los años ademas pago una multa por el seguro obligatorio de Obama…con la nueva gobernacion. Seguira siendo obligado el seguro medico…me haran el descuento directo a mi compensascion ssa?

  23. I plan on applying for social security payments this coming May 2017 at age 67. I left the US over 10 years ago and have been living overseas. Can I apply for ss payments in the Dominican Republic to be deposited into my Dominican bank account?

  24. I am really stuck. Please help! A couple of months ago I applied online for my ss retirement benefits. Unfortunately I answered the question about disability with a “yes”. I found myself in the disability section applying for disability benefits. I wrote in the comments section that I had made a mistake and just wanted my retirement.
    I was block from re-entering the site.
    I called the Embassy in Paris (I now live in France) and was told to call ss in the US. I tried. The first time, I was told to just type in my ss number. That didn’t work. Then I was told to contact the Consulate in Marseille. I left 4 messages on the phone at the Consulate but heard nothing back.
    Through a personal contact, the head of the Consulate Monique Quesada very kindly said she would refer my problem to the American Citizen Service. I’ve no contact and it’s been a month now. I tried emailing citizenformarseille@state.gov but the address doesn’t work. I left 2 more message last week on the phone at the Consulate but have has no reply. Help!!! I really don’t know what to do.

      • Many, many thanks for your help Ray. What a great relief it’s been to ask for help and actually get it! I don’t know what I would have done without your intervention. Thanks again. – Michele

  25. I appreciate the use of this blog. Lots of interesting posts and nice to get a response to queries.

    I live overseas and have for many years. I am a recipient of SSA benefits as well as my dependent children. My wife is their Payee Representative. I am also federal government annuitant under the Civil Service Retirement System (NOT FERS).

    When my SSA benefits were determined, I received a reduced amount because I was a federal annuitant. I think it was referred to an offset.

    I am assembling some info for my wife about how to report my death and if my children are still eligible (age) to make a claim for them. We know to use the US Embassy to file the claim.

    My wife is not eligible to receive a survivor benefit as she is not a US citizen and will remain living overseas. That is our understanding.

    However, my question is….will the survivor benefit for the children also have an “offset”?

    • Thank you for your question Mike. Based on the information you provided, it appears that the reduction (or offset) to your Social Security benefits are based on the Windfall Elimination Provision(WEP). The WEP may cause the amount of your Social Security benefit to be reduced when you received a pension based on work that was/is not covered by Social Security (for example, Federal civil service and some State or local government agencies). However, the impact of WEP does not continue after your death. Upon notification of the worker’s death, we do a re-computation of benefits without applying the WEP effect, which may result in a higher benefits for the surviving (eligible) children. Also, please visit our Frequently Asked Questions web page to learn more on how non-citizens living outside the United States could receive Social Security benefits. We hope this information helps!

  26. Can you comment on why the COLA are applied as a percentage of each recipient’s individual benefit and based on the average recipient’s benefit. This procedure provides less in actual dollars to those on the lower end of the scale and more to those on the upper end, thus increasing the benefit gap between them. Is not the theory behind COLAs that if the price of a gallon of milk goes from $3.00 a gallon to $3.30 then the COLA is intended to cover that increase? Why then do some beneficiaries get as much as a three times greater amount than others…do they pay more for than milk than those at lower benefit levels? I think not.

    Therefore, it seems logical, reasonable and fair that the COLA increases ought to be calculated as a percentage of the average benefit and every beneficiary paid that calculated dollar amount. Again, who should some beneficiaries receive an increase of, for example, $30/month while others receive, $90 to pay for that same gallon of milk?

  27. I have a friend who was permanent resident of usa for more of 10 years and worked all those years here, but he returned to Colombia and lost his status of permanent resident. Right now, he has the age to claim his retirement. Does he can claim it? and how can he claim it? Can he give me an authorization to process it for him?

    • Thank you for your question Margarita. Generally, to be eligible for Social Security benefits, an individual must be either: a U.S. citizen, or an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence. However, in some cases, we may pay benefits to non-citizens outside of the United States if they meet certain conditions. For payments to non-citizens living outside the United States, go to our Frequently Asked Questions web page. In addition, you friend will have to make direct contact with the U.S. Embassy in Colombia, for further assistance. Also, our Office of International Operations home page provides more information to assist individuals living abroad. We hope this information helps.

  28. Hi, My husband is 64yo this year. He became disabled in 2011 and is still collecting SSD. We have been talking about a move out of the US, Mexico etc, or to US owned locations, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands etc. What will happen to his SSD if we move and no longer have a US address. We could not get by without his check and don’t want to make bad move by relocating and loosing his benefits. Thank You

  29. My husband and I are receiving social security benefits as we are in our late 60’s. We have Medicare which is deducted from our checks. If we move to costa Rica to live would we be able to stop paying for Medicare since we could no longer use it?

    • Hi Roseann. Medicare benefits are generally available, only for medical services provided in the United States. However, since this is a serious decision, our policy requires a personal interview be conducted with everyone who wants to terminate their Medicare Part B benefits. Representatives at your local Social Security office will help you complete the required Form CMS-1763, “Request for Termination of Premium Hospital and /or Supplementary Medical Insurance”, but we need to speak to you personally before we terminate your Medicare benefits to be sure that you fully understand the consequences of doing so. We do not offer Form CMS-1763 online. For further assistance or to make an appointment, call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213. Representatives are available Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Also, see our publication “Social Security — Your Payments While You Are Outside the United States”.
      Thanks!

  30. I am living France. I have been trying without success to log on to my SS account for over a year. The web-site will not recognize my SS # or birthdate. I have tried to call SS in the States and they pass me off to numerous operators none of whom are helpful.

    I would like to update my personal information.

    I would appreciate any advise you might have.

    Thank you,

    Stephen K.

    • Hi Stephen. The “my Social Security” authentication system requires address verification as one of the essential criteria for creating or accessing an account. People with APO/FPO/DPO addresses can create an account overseas, but our system does not support registration and account creation for users with a foreign address yet. For assistance related to your Social Security benefits, please contact your local U.S. embassy or consulate. Also, our Office of International Operations home page provides more contact information to assist our customers living abroad. We hope this helps.

  31. Hi
    I worked in the states 11 years and eligible for ss benefits according to my record.Now ı am living in Turkey.I am also US citizen. Would you please let me know what is the easiest way to transfer the ssi to my account in Turkey.What kind of information ı have to give to ss Office to transfer Money to my account in Turkey..I will be in the states in a month for social security retirement.
    Thanks
    Thanks.

Leave a Reply - (comment policy)

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *