General, Retirement

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

August 8, 2016 • By

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 www.socialsecurity.gov/international/payments_outsideUS.html.

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 www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs.

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


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Doug Walker, Deputy Commissioner, Communications

Deputy Commissioner, Office of Communications

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  1. Robert Wayne Holsapple

    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.

    Reply
  2. Atanaska K.Iskreva

    Hello,
    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 ssa.gov for am.sitizen who live outsite.
    Thank you!

    Reply
  3. Victor wells

    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

    Victorwells80@yahoo.com

    Reply
  4. 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.

    Reply
    • Vonda

      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!

      Reply

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