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.

Did you find this Information helpful?

Thanks for your feedback!

Tags: , , ,

See Comments

About the Author

Doug Walker, Deputy Commissioner, Communications

Deputy Commissioner, Office of Communications


  1. Joseph I.

    Do I understand the statement released by the social security office that if you move out of the country for more then six consecutive months you could lose your SS retirement money.

  2. Frankv18

    If you own a home. can the social security take your home after you died , if they help you with home care and medicine

  3. miriam a.

    how can I learn what is my benefits in the future

    • Ray F.

      Hi Miriam, our Retirement Estimator gives estimates of monthly Social Security benefits based on your actual Social Security earnings record. We have a variety of calculators to help you plan for the future. Which calculator you choose depends on what you want to do. We suggest that you create a my Social Security account. With your personal my Social Security account, you can verify your earnings, get your Social Security Statement, and much more. Happy planning!

      • John O.

        Tell her to get an I phone first so that she’ll meet the new arbitrary security measures. Hope she has an extra 100 bucks lying around.

      • mikl

        How can I verify my earnings when ”my social security” account is only inaccessible with a US number cell phone ????? Tell me how please???

      • Stephen M.

        The questions above regarding US Citizens living abroad and who wish to access their account but have no US mobile phone number needs an answer from the SSA person. Please respond because there are many of us living outside the USA currently.

        • Jenna Y.

          Thanks for your question, Stephen. my Social Security does not support cell phone numbers more than 10 digits at this time. We currently support international phone numbers only if they are within the North American numbering plan of 10 digits. You can contact your local Embassy or Consulate at to find out information about your account or any claims that you may file online. Hope this helps!

          • Stephen

            There is NO international cell phone that can be txted from the USA using only 10 digits. The 10 digit number HAS to have a country code before the 10 digit cell number. So your policy and your statement is absolutely incorrect and violates the discriminatory laws and the Accessibility laws of the USA

          • Chris

            Actually, Stephen, you are incorrect. Canada and most of the Caribbean countries can be texted with 10 digits; they do not require country codes. U.S. citizens who are residents of those countries can use online access just fine. (And what discrimination law has “foreign residents” as a protected category?)

  4. Fahmi N.

    Well. Over half a million people, perhaps mostly American citizens, who live outside the US receive SS benifets. According to present rule a great number of these people will not be able to enjoy and benefit from online direct access, simply because they don’t have a US address.
    When will this rule be revisited again out of fairness to all these people??
    Thank you.

    • mikl

      I am retired living (happily) outside US permanently. Now I can NOT access my account online because of new security code required each time. The only way to get the code requires a mobile phone with US number and address. There are over 8-million citizens living abroad who now have no access to their accounts. Lovely 🙂

    • mikl

      So the answer is…NO access. And no plan to correct this massive mistake?
      Question: If and when I die, my wife needs to access the account to report and apply for survivor benefits.
      How will she do this? I need to give her instructions. Please provide. Thank you.

      • Sharon

        You are unable to apply for widow(er) benefits online. You need to call (800) 772-1213.

    • Dennis

      I live outside the USA and have my SS benefits deposited in an American Bank that has this same bank in my country. I just go to the ATM and withdraw my money.

      • Maria. A.

        May I please ask the name of your bank I want to move to
        Thank you
        Maria M.

        • Allan H.

          Bank Of American

      • Maha

        I’m moving also to Europe Paris or london what American bank do they have there. I’m here in FL right now. I think the wisest thi g is to give them bank name here. And withdraw money from overseas or give them my bank account details overseas ???? Anyone can advice. Please.

        • leonora j.

          you need go over to say london set up home address and open bank account ,first ,,then transfer it from fl ,,i have but i also want toret back in uk i have to close bank here first cos no address here ,,,unless u have a relation use theirs

  5. Stephen

    I was wondering if my benefit would be recalculated this fall? I retired late last year. Social Security used 75000 estimate for 2015 earnings. I had my best year ever over 118500 . At least one of my best 35 years should be replaced in the benefit calculation.

    • Ray F.

      Hi Stephen. Each year, we review the records for all working Social Security recipients to see if additional earnings may increase monthly benefits. If your latest year of earnings turns out to be one of your highest years, we refigure your benefit and pay you any increase due. This is an automatic process, and benefits are paid in December of the following year. For example, in December 2016, you should get an increase for your 2015 earnings if those earnings raised your benefit. The increase would be retroactive to January 2016. We hope this information helps.

      • AYISSI J.

        M Name Is Ayissi Joachim l need life any plan payment

        Bank Name Bank of America Routing (ABA) 061000052 Account Number 00003505002249362 Account Type CHECKING Beneficiary Name Ayissi Joachim

        • Marge

          NEVER EVER publish your Bank Routing Numbr plus YOUR Checking Account Number

      • Stephen M.

        I just retired in May this year, and filled for my benefits but up to now, there has been no deposit in my account. What is the problem?

        • Jenna Y.

          Hi Stephen. For your security, and the security of others, we do not have access to information about your request in this venue. The best way to accomplish your business with Social Security online is by creating a personal my Social Security account. You can use my Social Security to get a proof of benefits letter, change your address or phone number on our records, start or change your direct deposit, and check your benefit and payment information.

    • John O.

      It will be, recomps are done automatically late September or early October. Bring in your W2’s for last year now tp the local office and your recomp will be done sooner.

  6. al s.

    .02 X Ave Soc Sec payment of 1350 per month = 27 cents! Ouch! Where is Bernie when we need him!

    • Stephen

      Thank you both.

  7. Bill E.

    It has been reported by AARP that the increase will be miniscule – not much better than the 0% that you received the last couple of years. The estimate is 0.02% – or nothing.

    • John O.

      And the AARP knows how?

      • Bill E.

        All Gov’t agencies know the formula – as does AARP. Google is your friend – give it a shot.

        • Bill E.

          I did move a zero – would actually average about $2.70 a month instead of .27 cents.

          • AIMEE K.


    • Dianne J.

      True, anywhere from $.20 to $2.00 for most of us …………..

  8. Tom

    Congress determines the formula for costs-of-living and are regularly considering an alternative method which in most years would be stingier, not better from a consumer’s point-of-view. The Labor Statistics agency will determine what the cost is based on certain measurements. This is an aggregate measure, so while your own costs may be higher or better controlled than the average American, the formula is a Congressional decision and captures average increases or decreases within specific costs in the national economy.

    The issue is therefore one for your legislators, not any agency. You can change that by a) how you vote after identifying what your candidate’s position is and b) by paying attention to your rep’s and Senators’ records and speaking up when you feel something is not fair. Find others who agree with you and organize. While a blog is a nice forum for self-expression, it is directed away from those who can do anything to change what is already in place. You ultimately are a lone voice and those who need to hear from you will probably not unless you contact their staff directly.

    • Fahmi N.

      Yep. Just be sure not to vote people back in office who are considering cutting your SS benefits, because you don’t like other candidates.
      Good luck

      • John O.

        Trouble is, SS is the third rail and NO ONE is proposing cutting benefits.

      • Dokey

        I don’t think it matters! Those Congressman have been in the Congress, some for 30 years!! The people don’t have a say about anything anymore! Look at what we have to choose from for our next president, God help us all ??

      • AYISSI J.

        I live outside the U.S. I am a U.S. Citizen but living on Guam which is a Territory of the U.S., with that being said, does that mean the benefits which I am receiving for my Son Stops??? Henceforth, I don’t plan on vacationing or leaving Island for more than 30 days. Another question, Will they be an increase for FY2017? Thank you~

        • Ray F.

          If your son continues to live with you, you should continue to receive his payments as long as you are the representative payee. Please remember to report any changes, to your local Social Security office in Guam. The Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA), is announced each year in October.

        • Larry D.

          Ask the SS! This is the comment section!☺

      • Karenashby

        We must be cognizant of the candidate who just has money, trickery, and so-called power. He has no love for the poor and needy who depend on Social Security, or racial injustices in his bias, racist eyes and his soul- less being. Being with him only furthers pure hatred.

      • Allan H.


  9. Linda G.

    I don’t & Won’t be Living outside the US Ever but will I get a Raise in 2017?

    • Linda G.

      I Sure Hope So.

      • John O.

        It’s an election year, so what do you think?

    • Ray F.

      The Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA), is announced each year in October.

      • Paul K.

        I am Paul K.Musoke. I am a US Citizen, now on extended stay in Uganda. I reach age 62, next year. When can I start receiving, Social Security Benefits ??.

        • Maha

          I will be travelling also overseas.. to Europe .how can I apply for my as benefits from overseas

          • Ray F.

            For assistance related to Social Security benefits, please contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate in your area. Also, our Office of International Operations home page provides more information to assist our customers living abroad. We hope this information helps.

          • Ray F.

            When living abroad please contact your local U.S. embassy or consulate for any assistance related to your Social Security benefits.

  10. BRENDA J.




    • Marcy J.

      Ms. Hudson, I don’t work for Social Security, but they are raising the limits for 2017, so my best guess is all Social Security recipients are getting an increase in their benefits. Best wishes.

      • tonylagajino

        I hope Their will be an Increase by 2017 …Just can’t make it anymore .

        • Mary A.

          I’m with you it’s very hard to make ends meat. Between medicine and food and gas. Thanks

          • Michael J.


          • Cora D.


      • Buddy S.

        Not ALL Social Security recipients get a raise, unless you are referring to the tiny cost of living increase. If you elect to take early retirement before age 65, you are forever locked in to the smaller pension as some kind of punishment for having the nerve to leave the work force before the system has had enough time to squeeze every last drop out of you, hoping you will die first before having to pay anything out – like all insurance companies.

        • David


    • Ray F.

      The Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA), is announced each year in October.

      • Rosie M.

        On behalf of a family member receiving disability benefits and covered by the health plan of Nevada: he would like to move either to upper NYS (close to the Canadian border) or to Canada where his family lives and can care for him. Would he be eligible to medical coverage?

      • Barbara B.

        I never elected to retire before 65. I was pushed into it unknown to me. I have also been kept in the payee system because a nameless”someone” told them I couldn’t handle money. This was a retaliatory move by a man I wouldn’t get involved with romantically.

    • Brett D.

      I live outside the U.S. I am a U.S. Citizen but living on Guam which is a Territory of the U.S., with that being said, does that mean the benefits which I am receiving for my Son Stops??? Henceforth, I don’t plan on vacationing or leaving Island for more than 30 days. Another question, Will they be an increase for FY2017? Thank you~

      • a m.

        Thanks to ss. I peace outside US with my 3 kids. I am retired and we all recieve benefits ie. SS. Will my SS be affected by any new law?

        • Ray F.

          The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 (Public Law 114-74; November 2, 2015), made some changes to Social Security’s laws and closed two complex loopholes that were used primarily by married couples. Your benefits and your children’s benefits should not be affected by these changes. Beneficiaries living abroad and needing to report changes or for assistance related to Social Security benefit, should contact the nearest U.S. embassy. Thanks!

    • Retiree

      We will get NaDa.

    • Sharon

      The amount of any Cost of Living Increase for 2017 will be released around October 17th.

    • Dianne J.

      Yes !! you will, we all will, and it amounts to about $2.00 per month … meanwhile, benefits to those reaping from welfare and food stamps have risen much more sharply

      • Bob


        1) Politicians depend upon votes to maintain their positions of power, influence, and income. Raiding SSA coffers in order to add to general funds (replacing the booty in the SSA “vault” with IOUs) has allowed pols to spend irresponsibly, buying influence along the way. (The effects of this have been exacerbated by large numbers of Baby Boomers retiring, but pols KNEW this would happen even as they were spending like there was no tomorrow. We Boomers have been paying mightily into the retirement kitty — and the spendthrifts in DC took full advantage of all that cash, just burning a hole in their proverbial collective pocket. Don’t let them kid you; these paltry COL increases could have been better if our elected representatives had any integrity, whatsoever.)

        2) The average welfare and food stamp recipient will vote many more times in the remainder of their lives than the average Social Security recipient, who is nearer the end of his or her life.

        Coincidence? Unlikely.

    • Roy

      I am age 69, just received noticed that I will be getting a $.01 oer month raise in SS for 2017; however, SS is deducting an extra $17.50 per month because of my 2015 earnings. This is no joke.

    • Joe

      Did you get your 3 dollar raise??

    • joseph

      $1.00 raise for me 2017

    • s

      Under Donald Trump???? hahahahahahahahahahahahah!

    • Sam G.

      I am out side u.s. temorarily….I had overpayment noticed and all was resolved in January 2017…..and now after i made a comment on non named website i got message saying you are gonna have trouble…and 2 weeks i had my benefits stopped. i saved all information and have sent to current Attorney General…the statement was…. your retirement is gonna be miserable….following with “ya shoulda supported Obama” NO KIDDING.

Comments are closed.