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. Thara T.

    I agree with Lawrence Westfall. I am living in Bangkok that is a bit better than Khon Kaen. SSA should consider using e-mail instead of rely on mail, especially mailing service in Thailand is horrible. Every year when I receive SSA report form, I am very glad that it gets to me and I must report back via “registered mail” just to make sure that it get back to the US. Lost mail is very common here, I did lost my check from TIAA CREF once and it took me half a year to get a replacement. SSA might argue that anybody can reply the e-mail for you. In this case SSA can randomly ask a person to report at the local US Consulate in person before stop the payment. I rather do that more than relying on Thai Mailing Service.

  2. 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 ?

    • Fahmi N.

      This verification business should be relaxed to allow verification with email also. Most of us recipients living outside the US have an email account, to receive this message. There should be no cell phone or US address requirement for online access.

      • Maha

        I hope so. That email will be enough. At these comments are scaring me . Pla Ming to live overseas soon but I can only apply in two years. From Europe. So do I have to go to the US embassy to do that..can someone advise? Thank you. Sender : Maha

  3. David i.

    OK, Now tell everyone how many non-American citizens are receiving social security, the citizens of other countries.

    • Tuney A.

      Yes!!! How many of the 50 thousand Bhutanese who are now entrenched in OH receive Social Security monies…?????
      They have nice newish huge SUVs, Vans, etc…that no US Citizen could afford living on min wage!
      They do NOT “drive” safely nor do they OBEY any traffic laws “driving” or “walking”…

  4. Jerry

    Mr Walker, you and Social Security sure have a way of scaring people. First, let me remind you the “money” we are talking about belongs to the people who paid into it via the tax that came out of our pay checks and does not belong to the Government. If you think differently then you better have a very good explanation. Secondly, not everyone has a “cell phone” with texting. Your current plan is a bad one. A very “Bad” one. Third, SSI is different from SS benefits payments. Full SS payments should never be affected no matter where one lives. The exceptions are banned Countries list. Other than that the questionnaire is unnecessary except to determine of a person is a live or not. 30 days is way to short of a period for that determination, 60 days would be more appropriated considering paperwork that needs to be filled by family or friends. I hope you take my message seriously.

  5. ss

    Hello, yesterday too I had been with the psychiatric doctor.. i am paying fees to my cardiologist, endocrinologist, skin doctor, psychiatric doctors and neurologist. I am paying them.. If I live in India , US do not have a Medicare coverage .. whatever i have saved from the ssi i am paying with that money.

    Globally US is no 1 country. I had a dream to live in US and do something outstanding education or work like any other Indians (many doctors, Egnineers, so on…people have achieved their dreams .. without having their dream they achieved may be.. they are all intelligent people.. they do not dream they work and go on claiming the ladder).. I am not intelligent woman.. I dream ..and try to achieve.. and fall from the ladder.. once or twice.. so I fell down.. I cannot work 9 to 5 job in an timed.. timed environment… so when I tried to work I fell sick and admitted hospital.. when there is a social stigma for the mental patients I cannot talk or write saying i am a mental patient.. I have to tell the society I am normal.. look i am writing books.. look I am cooking so on.. But when it comes to work with normal people i know I cannot flow.. I do not want to fall from the ladder again.. so now with the ssi money i am living outside the US. Do you think I am happy being outside the US… I am living outside the US.. because.. with the ssi money I can spend money in Rupees to my domestic servants to help me.. I need not to ask money form the person who has given me the shelter (for him there is an advantage too,, that i take care of his domestic day to day affairs , and he is also disabled so he can be relaxed.. he knows i am a trust worthy woman).. but this person is not looking after me by giving all that emotional support because he himself having personality disorder, polio, leg is not normal.. alcoholic.. and yet he is an Indian citizen people are there to help him.. help him in all respect.. but I am as an U.S citizen living in India.. people won’t help me in the first hand.. oh she is an American..with the stigma disabled woman..
    Here comes the feeling.. yes I am proud to be American.. and I have root from India.. so I am an IndoAmerican.. I should feel proud to be both.. I think India is my mother and America is my father by feeling and in my imagination.. But in reality.. i am under the wing of SSI.. I do not want it but i cannot quite also.. why shall I do? If i come to US to claim the ladder or stay on the first step platue status.. I need a shelter to keep that ladder on the floor.. where is the floor for me.. I always go and live with my brother, or with my son.. there comes my daughter in law her parents.. her sister.. where I will be .. I will be in the kitchen and cleaning and taking care of my grand child even with my high blood sugar i should not talk where is my dream come true coming from village(India) is this is the status? I am very emotional person.. I get attached to people very soon.. I do not know how to get detached.. I listen to music.. I study to understand Bipolar i am studying psychology.. I like to work online if possible.. I am taking medicine.. I am putting fuel to my dream yes US is the land of opportunity.. i think that statue of liberity calming me come back I am here.. you can fulfill your dream.. yes.. I will be back to that holy country.. I like to work.. in what way i do not know .. may be work from home in the starting point.. I like to have my own shelter.. I need my car back.. I like to help needy people.. America is my dream land.. I would like to come back.. Americans find their gods in their work ,, in their charity work.. they do not harm others.. only very few here and there and it is natural because humans are from animals origin.. that instincts are always there wherever humankind is the matter of fact what is the ration… As an Indian born.. i would like help here the needy people as much as I can.. as an American I like to achieve something like any other Indians who are in a high achievement status.. but me as a Bipolar victim.. I can write in the corner of the room with my writing ability.. and sell that book and help needy people and do you think America will give me emotional support.. in changing India.. people are looking for computer advancement youngsters are loosing their roots and they are not Indian nor western.. limbo.. India is very rich country with their ancient cultural heritage.. rich with gold and jewleries.. rich with population and more than anything Indians are rich with their intelligence more intelligence than and average American.. yet even after 70 years of Independence struggling to consider as developed country list.. what is the problem I have to cover my mother with a saree.. and that red bottu.. She is my mother..

    what shall Ido now.. shall I continue with my write ups.. whatever god has given me the natural ability.. but no one is here to support me.. because I am an American separated woman from alcoholic husband including my daughter in law she says “you do not have any rights to tell me anything” and where I have to belong if not within my family” shall I start working in an office and end up in mental hospital again..? I do not have my own shelter in that vast country .. I do not know how to find my shelter .. shall I just pray god to help me or for the people who are disabled Social Security come forward to give a stick to hold it ( by giving a bit of money ) I do not know what .. my tears are rolling down on my check while I am writing.. I love America.. I like to live in America.. but this so much of intelligent .. powerful people around.. I am like a sparrow eating grins given by SS. Folks people who are disabled can understand my feelings.. Normal people cannot understand this.. so let it go ..

    Yes I would like to come to Social Security office and tell them look I have fulfilled my dream from now onwards I will start giving you.. you receive it.. AM I DREAMING IT .. THT STATUE OF LIBERTY KNOWS AND THE SO CALLED SUPPER POWER KNOWS IT (GOD).. I am trying to understand what is bipolar.. I competed my Master degree in psychology from Indian university.. I like to come back and start working …. Folks please bless me and wish me..with your sacred heart..
    I donot like to give my name.. I love you all I like America should grow both vertically (going to Mars and start living there and so on) and horizontally.. Mrs. clinton and her family (US) do not like to travel alone she build the bridge horizontally too… God bless America and the rest (servo sukino bavanthu).

    • james s.

      I didn’t catch that, what did you say?

  6. Lawrence W.

    It would be nice if the SSA would email the periodic questionnaire instead of relying on snail mail. In my case, living in Thailand, I have to hope a from mailed from the Philippines gets to me in Khon Kaen. If I fail to receive it and therefore return it, my payments stop until I send one in.

  7. Patricia R.

    I retired march of 2014 and do not live in the USA. Will my benefits be affected.

  8. hae k.

    I worked very hard not smart way because nobody told me how to work towards retirement. Living in the USA is … need car then car payment, rental room with my puppies. I like to grow my vegetables as gardening and food.

  9. Heather J.

    I think it is ridiculous that my benefits, such as 80% of medical expense, is not in effect if an emergency surgery happens while on vacation out of country. Why am I penalized for going on holiday and having a medical problem?

  10. james r.

    Hello to ya; listen i am at the moment drawing ss benfits, and to be quite honest it is not enough to live on. so that´s why i am still working 65 hours at least a month. now the question i have for you is; will my ss benfits increase as time goes by? by the way i am living outside of the US, a reply on my e-mail would be very helpful.

    • mikl

      You need a US number cell phone to access your account and get those questions answered. New security.

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