General, Retirement, SSI

Social Security Benefits U.S. Citizens Outside the United States

August 8, 2016 • By

Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Last Updated: March 17, 2021

Benefits-outside-the-USOver half a million people who live outside the United States receive some kind of Social Security benefit, including retired and disabled workers, as well as spouses, widows, widowers, and children.

If you’re a U.S. citizen, you may receive your Social Security payments outside the United States as long as you are eligible. When we say you are “outside the United States,” we mean you’re not in one of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, or American Samoa. Once you’ve been outside the United States for at least 30 days in a row, we consider you to be outside the country.

If you are traveling outside the U.S. for an extended amount of time, it’s important that you tell Social Security the date you plan to leave and the date you plan to come back, no matter how long you expect your travel to last. Then we can let you know whether your Supplemental Security Income (SSI) will be affected.

You can use this online tool to find out if you can continue to receive your Social Security benefits if you are outside the United States or are planning to go outside the United States at

This tool will help you find out if your retirement, disability, or survivor’s payments will continue as long as you are eligible, stop after six consecutive calendar months, or if certain country specific restrictions apply.

When you live outside the United States, periodically we’ll send you a questionnaire. Your answers will help us figure out if you still are eligible for benefits. Return the questionnaire to the office that sent it as soon as possible. If you don’t, your payments will stop. In addition to responding to the questionnaire, notify us promptly about changes that could affect your payments.

You can also read the publication titled Your Payments While You Are Outside the United States at

Social Security is with you through life’s journey, even if that journey takes you outside the United States.

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About the Author

Doug Walker, Deputy Commissioner, Communications

Deputy Commissioner, Office of Communications


  1. Lara N.

    Trying to find foreign spouse rules for survivor benefits. Already retired. Live in philippines. Have wife here. Can’t find 8nfo on your site. Thanks
    Name Combiner

  2. B S.

    I lived in the US for 15 yrs working with a green card.
    I am currently living in Australia but may move back to UK.
    I am 66 and retired. Would I be eligible for state pension. This gap lowers the pension that I am eligible in those countries.
    Thank You

  3. LUIS R.

    Last week on Monday 10 February 2021 I sent my certificate citizen attach with my wife documents to apply register my socila security number like citizen. How long the office SSN take to process it? Thanks

    • V.V.

      For your security, Luis, we do not have access to private information in this venue. We ask that members in our Blog community work with our offices with specific questions. You can call us at 1-800-772-1213 for assistance or you can call your local Social Security office. Please look for the general inquiry telephone number at the Social Security Office Locator. The number may appear under Show Additional Office Information. Please be aware that our call wait times are longer than normal. We hope this information helps.

  4. Evelyn Q.

    Please Do Not Post) I need my award letter for 2021. Though I was told it was mailed out in December I haven’t gotten mine.
    ss# ***-**-**** DOB: 08/24/49

    • V.V.

      Hi Evelyn, thanks for using our blog. You can securely view and save the Social Security COLA notice online via the Message Center inside your my Social Security account .

      If you’re unable to access the COLA notice, check out our Frequently Asked Questions web page for details on how to get a benefit verification letter. This letter is sometimes called a budget letter, a benefits letter, a proof of income letter or a proof of award letter. You also may be able to request a benefit verification letter by using our automated telephone service at 1-800-772-1213. You can conduct the automated services 24 hours a day. At the prompt, indicate that you’re requesting a proof of income letter. We hope this helps.

  5. Jeremiah

    I wish to go to the Philippines to find a wife. I know the rules of living there for a year possibly two. Will my ssi still be applicable and open or will it be void. I’m currently in a wheelchair.

    • V.V.

      Hi Jeremiah, thanks for using our blog. Our publication, “Your Payments While You Are Outside the United States”, explains how being outside the United States may affect your Social Security payments.

      If you are a U.S. citizen, you may continue to receive payments outside the United States as long as you are eligible for payment and you are in a country where we can send payments. If you aren’t a U.S. citizen, you must meet one of the conditions for payment described in this publication.

      You may use our Payments Abroad Screening Tool to see if your benefits will continue indefinitely, stop after six consecutive months or if certain country specific restrictions apply.

      We also recommend that individuals planning to leave the United States visit our Office of International Operations home page, which provides additional information for our customers living abroad. We hope this information helps!

  6. Victor w.

    Trying to find foreign spouse rules for survivor benefits. Already retired. Live in philippines. Have wife here. Can’t find 8nfo on your site. Thanks

  7. Atanaska K.

    I am Atanaska , and I am american sitizen . Now , I lve in Bulgaria, and try to change my address . But from office in Medina , Ohio told me , that I have some restriction to receive my retirement when I live in Bulgaria.
    Can you , please tell me , is that thru , because I don’t see that in website for am.sitizen who live outsite.
    Thank you!

  8. Robert W.

    Hello. If I decide to live in a foreign country, for instance the Bahamas, can I still collect full benefits once I reach full retirement age? I am a US citizen and I am eligible for benefits. Thank you for your time.

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