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. Bernadette

    WHAT A CROCK! THESE SIGHTS ARE A JOKE! DISGUSTED TO CALL MYSELF AN AMERICAN & DISGUSTED WITH THE USA. people working in gov. department’s say they can help. do you have any idea how many bogus gov. jobs out there that say they can help and DON’T? they give false info which hurt you more, and don’t help. THEY SHOULD BE FIRED. there would be more money for DISABLED PEOPLE, VET’S ETC…LIKE ME.
    PEOPLE JUST COMING IN THE usa ARE GETTING IT ALL!!! EVERYTHING!!! THEY ARE LIVING MY AMERICAN DREAM!!! born and raised in the usa. PAID into the system since 16yrs old. told to do this, told to do that to mess my credit even more. no land lord will rent to me. now homeless. in a tent, in a park, in parking lots one eye open, one closed. praying my dog and i will be safe and not go to jail. THANK GOD FOR THE CAR the only roof over my head which the gov. says i don’t need, nor a cell phone, dog or tv) all these sights, gov dept’s are worried about is me having a P.O. BOX for my mail. if not things I received this year will be taken from me…
    medications and rent increase with NO COST OF LIVING INCREASE FOR 7YRS BECAUSE OF THE OBAMA CARE DID ME IN . what a joke. $20 increase in 2014 &15 is NO HELP!!!!
    i know someone NOT born here, husband makes more $ than GOD gets FREE COLLEGE. that’s just one. i know a few others getting gov. help and don’t deserve it..
    You have more was of the rich keeping their $$$ than us….banks are bailed out while we get hit with high interest rates and late fees….you need to stop the bull and take care of those that are in really need.
    been inventing my whole life. came up with 85 item that took others 5 to 30 yrs to think of. still have more ideas. people could be working including myself but you make it impossible to do so…
    so much more to complain about. whats the use. it will go in one ear and out the other andy you’ll do nothing to help…..why have these sites if your not going to do anything about helping…..i’m to much of a lady to really say what’s on my mind with the gov. you should all go through what we are and feel what we are feeling. MAYBE SOMETHING WOULD BE DONE ABOUT THE SITUATIONS!!! YEAH RIGHT! WISHING YOU AND YOUR FAMILY THE SAME WE ARE GOING THROUGH!!!

    • tony

      In Florida, the Division of Driver License has a line for US Citizens and a line for Non-Citizens.

      Social Security should make two ALJ hearing waiting periods, one for SSDI and another for SSI. The American Workers who are applying for SSDI should have a shorter waiting period than SSI. Those applying for welfare(SSI) should have a longer waiting period.

      The American Workers who labored hard and pay taxes have to wait behind lazy people who never work or paid federal taxes.

      The American Workers have to wait, mess up their credit, and become homeless before they can speed up their hearing date.

      The lazy people who never work a day in their lives can get a hearing date much faster because of Dire Need. Of course everyone applying for SSI has Dire Need because their maximum resources is $2000 and that money would run out by the time they get their initial decision.

      The American Working Class gets penalized all the time.

      The American Working Class can get denied at Step 4 of the disability process because the SSA lied and said they can perform their previous work. The lazy people who never work a day in their lives can skip Step 4 because they don’t have any previous work history.

      The people who do hard manual labor all of their life hasn’t increased their life expectancy. They die off early. The SSA doesn’t want to give them disability and force them to go back to work, so they can die and never collect Social Security retirement.

      The lazy people who never working a day in their lives on SSI can collect for the rest of their lives while the tax payers pay for everything including food stamps, Medicaid, and Section 8 housing.

  2. Michael D.

    I live overseas, and do not have a U.S. cell phone. Yet now you tell me that I can neither review nor receive my annual statement unless I have a U.S. cell phone (your site will not accept my overseas cell phone number). With so many of us living outside the U.S., some accommodation should be made so that we can access our accounts and not be cut off and abandoned.

  3. Reynaldo G.

    I retired in the Philippines, there is no Medicare coverage here, That is the dilemma of retirees that reside here. But the US embassy employees, have their health coverage. I wonder, if the SSS, already address this problem, or already have a solution, that I do not know. Please help.

  4. Nona P.

    I feel exactly the same way as Jerry Mr Walker as thousands of us do. These rules are more communistic in nature than democratic. It is really scary living like this .

  5. MARIA

    After reading the beneficiaries’ living abroad point of view, I realize that some legislation should be done in order to embrace them in the system. Lets put our hand together to connect these people to the SS directly. The ruling of a U.S. address and phone number could be changed for those leaving abroad. Maybe the American Embassies could make the proper identification.
    The problem exists, so, lets find a solution.

  6. Deb G.

    I plan on retiring to Belize in 8 years, and I certainly hope by then that the government gets their act together, join the 21st century, and open the online access to any address in this WORLD !!! My SS# goes with me, no matter where I am, and you can’t be on any official government site without entering your last 4 digits of your SS# – SO – why would it matter that my address is within the US or outside of the US?

  7. tammy

    “Over 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”. It doesn’t matter if you live inside or outside the US, the Socialist Security system can’t even fix an outdated “RULE” that they use to justify discrimination against physically disabled people.

    If you are a physically disabled person (an adult disabled child) and you happen to marry an “able bodied person” you will be loosing out on a lifetime of benefits, all because of a one word “rule” that prohibits you from marrying an “able bodied person”. Best of all, they never tell you about their “Rule” so that they can justify cutting off any benefits that you may be due.

    Because you are physically disabled (adult disabled child) and you choose not to marry another adult disabled child or disabled person drawing off socialist security, you WILL LOOSE ANY AND ALL BENEFITS FOR LIFE. This means that the SOCIALIST SECURITY system is TELLING YOU WHO YOU ARE ALLOWED TO MARRY and who you are
    NOT ALLOWED TO MARRY! It is a discriminatory act “rule” and should be ILLEGAL!

    Even though I am permanently and totally disabled, if I marry an “able bodied person”, somehow that marriage makes everything ok and I am no longer considered disabled (in the eyes of the socialist security system). Magically (because I married an able bodied person), the pixie fairies come down and cure my disability, because now I can just go out and find gainful employment, no one will discriminate against my physical disability and everything will be grand, right? Somehow magically, marrying an able bodied person makes my physical disablility dissappear and now I am cured, right? WRONG!

    The issue is a special “Rule” that the Socialist Security System uses to discriminate against “certain” people. If you are a “physically disabled person” (AKA-certain people) and happen to marry an able bodied person, then the SOCIALIST SECURITY system will use special “Rules” to legally discriminate against you and deny you benefits, even if you appeal online.

    The SOCIALIST SECURITY system has caused me a lot of economic hardship all because I married an able bodied person. The SOCIALIST SECURITY system thinks someone who is physically disabled (permanently and totally disabled) marries an “able bodied person”, that somehow magically they are cured of their physical disability and two people can survive off the able bodied persons income. WOW, talk about a bunch of bureaucratic idiotic thinking, that somehow this would not cause a financial hardship….. amazing.

    The rules that the Social Security Administration uses to legally discriminate against persons who are “Adult Disabled Children” who happen to marry an able bodied person, are discriminatory. This is loosely referred to as the “marriage penalty” but I call it exactly what it is, a legal form of discrimination.
    I firmly believe this rule, is an act of bias, prejudice and discrimination against people who (by no fault of their own) are born disabled and happen to marry an able bodied person

    Please write your Congressional Representative and tell them to end this modern day form of Legal Discrimination. In this day of fairness and equality, there are still some people suffering from an outdated and oppressive bureaucratic rule.

    (PS. notice how the only thing any of these SOCIALIST SECURITY workers ever say are quotes of the rules or processes, like a worker drone. They are unable to address any topics that fall outside of their rule books). Typical bureaucracy and bureaucratic responses, like trying to argue over lost change with a vending machine!

  8. tony

    These poor people like to steal from SSI. They will not notify the SSA that they are outside the US. Most of them will never get caught because the SSA doesn’t check. The SSA doesn’t even have the staff or resources to check with the Department of Homeland Security. The worst that will happen to them if they get caught is to repay the overpayment. Then they will ask for a waiver to repay the overpayment because they can’t afford to pay it back.

    The Democrats want to give illegal immigrants green cards so the illegal immigrants can collect SSI and live back in their native country good while the US tax payers is getting ripped off.

  9. Johnny L.


  10. 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

      As you can’t apply for widow(er) benefits online you have to call 800-772-1213 for information on how to apply. You can also contact your local Embassy or Consulate for how to file your claim.

    • Jenna Y.

      Thank you for your question. Your wife cannot apply for survivors benefits online. If she wants to apply for survivors benefits on your record, she will need to contact her Social Security office at 1-800-772-1213 to request an appointment. She can speed up the application process if she completes an Adult Disability Report and have it available at the time of her appointment.

    • Ray F.

      Individuals living overseas can contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or consulate for assistance when applying for their Social Security benefits. In addition, our Office of International Operations home page provides more information to assist our customers living abroad.

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