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

October 20, 2016 • By

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Last Updated: October 20, 2016

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

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

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

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About the Author

Jim Borland, Assistant Deputy Commissioner, Communications

Jim Borland, Assistant Deputy Commissioner, Communications


  1. Dcboada

    If you served and retired from the military,is it true that there’s additional monies on sss

    • Ray F.

      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 Hope this helps!

  2. Robert N.

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

    • Ray F.

      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 We hope this helps.

  3. Jaspal L.

    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?

    • Ray F.

      Yes Jaspal, you will need to notify your local Social Security office upon your return. Please bring in your passport or any other document that can verify the dates of travel. Thanks.

  4. Reynaldo G.

    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

    • Mahakvi

      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.

    • Ray F.

      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

  5. Yeni h.

    Am disability. Person. I have 67 years old my spouse is from Dallas TX

    • Yeni h.

      I don’t have benefits because I don’t if I can


        They will cheat you out of everything that you buy in the
        Southwest so do not come here to buy and just have a little more new and government takes it all.

  6. Kurt

    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?

    • Ray F.

      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.

  7. Tony S.

    We want better benefits from the United States. OASI is just as dry as the DI trust fund when it comes to COLA. $2.8 trillion in savings are underground. Retiring does not improve disability benefits, they remain the same. Doing all of SSAs work for years on end, also does not improve benefits. Even the 2.37% DI tax rate that broke Boehner’s back does not improve benefits more than 0.3% over two years because the United States SSA can’t do the math it takes to pay us the 6% COLA that is temporarily afforded at either the wrong 2.37% or right 2.4% DI tax rate that must stabilize at 2.2% DI and 10.2% OASI in 2018 to afford a 3% COLA and only maybe make a withdrawal from OASI, before taxing the rich to end poverty by 2020 beginning with SSI benefits for 16-24 million poor children. The kind of SSA every nation would want an international agreement rather than tax haven investigation with. Elect me Social Security Commissioner and pass the Social Security Amendments of January 1, 2016

  8. BRUCE P.

    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 ?

    • Ray F.

      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.

  9. Rod R.

    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

    • Ray F.

      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.

      • Rod R.

        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


        • Ray F.

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

  10. Bella

    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

    • Marc

      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.

    • Jimmy

      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…

      • Ray F.

        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!

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