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.

Tags: , , ,

See Comments

About the Author

Doug Walker, Deputy Commissioner, Communications

Deputy Commissioner, Office of Communications


  1. Shirley H.

    When will i get a check. I am on SSI and i have not filed and since 2015 or 2016

  2. Robert G.

    Hello, I am an American citizen living in Australia and started my SS retirement benefits application online in September 2019. My last work date was Dec 13, 2019. Manila FBU was assigned to my case and the last communication was a phone call from them on Feb 27 2020 saying they had received all my required documents -consisting of birth certificate and letter of employer stating last work day- and now still needed a copy of my passport page, which I emailed to them. My Case Officer has not responded after that, FBU themselves only responds with a standard “We will check your records”, that was 3 weeks ago. I talked to Baltimore and they said they would send Manila a message to contact me. I am getting desperate for the SS retirement that I worked hard for and counted on. I should have started to receive 2 this months ago. Any recourse at all? This is all getting a bit ridiculous. Thanks for any advice.

    • Robert

      Seems that only the easy questions get answered here?

      • Robert

        In fairness to this blog, after trying to call Baltimore international operations for 5 weeks, several times per day, my persistence paid off and I actually got through. Did I say it took 5 weeks? It did. Busy-busy-busy. I saw online that my case had shifted from worthless Manila to Baltimore. Anyway, after I talked to a lady, the following day my retirement benefits were approved when I checked my account online as I did EVERY day for 4 months.

  3. Jorge G.

    I’m an American living in Portugal (Europe). I want to know if I’m eligible to receive the stimulus payment and what do I have to do?

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Jorge, thank you for your question. Please visit the IRS Economic Impact Payments Information Center to answer your questions about eligibility, payment amounts, what to expect, when to expect it and more. Hope this helps!

  4. Richard C.

    I saw that Japan had a problem with retirees that live a very, very long time as they collect their pension checks, cash them and just wait for the next one. Living to be in their hundreds is common in Japan. Having many of those checks going to one address got someones attention. Until someone did check on how many were still alive. You know, how many were taking breaths, blinking, smiling. It turn out that those who cash their checks it was done by their children for they (pensioners) were in a urn in the back yard.
    I wonder if this is the case when Americans retired in a foreign country that while they have died that the US is not informed so that relatives would still cash those checks?

  5. Anthony S.

    Hi, I have resided in the Philippines and have collected a “small” Social Security retirement since I turned 62 in July of 2013. My question is this, since I’m not required to file an Income Tax Return ( income is $630 per month) will I still get the $1200 Stimulus money? Thank you

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Anthony. The Department of the Treasury will soon provide information about economic impact payments under the recently enacted law, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act. Treasury, not Social Security, will be making direct payments to eligible people. Please do not contact Social Security about these payments as the agency does not have information to share. Instead, for the latest information, please visit We hope this information is helpful.

  6. Luz A.

    My husband and I is a dual citizen here in US and we went to philippines for almost 2 years now. my question is if we are not using our medicare benefits for couple years now because we are in the philippines . is there a way that we just get credited rather than we are getting deductible from our SSI benefits????

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Luz. Medicare is not accepted in foreign countries; therefore, Medicare Part B is optional. Beneficiaries may refuse the coverage and if they file a written notification before Part B coverage starts, we always consider this a timely SMI refusal. Timely refusals may not incur premium charges in certain situations. Please check out the Medicare webpage regarding “I am outside the U.S.”

  7. R. M.

    I reside in the People’s Republic of China. I’ve been here since 2007, 13 years now. My designated FBU is in Manila, the Philippines. Due to the COVID-19 epidemic, the Philippines is under heavy quarantine and the FBU is not operating at any capacity. I am eligible to apply for full retirement benefits (age 66) in April 2020. I was instructed by FBU Manila to apply on the US SSA website. I tried to setup a “My SSA” account using my sister’s mailing address as my domestic mailing address. I received a message indicating my information could not be verified. How can I resolve that? Additionally, if I were granted SS retirement benefits, can they be deposited in my bank in China?

    • Michele

      I am a US citizen who lives outside the USA. I cannot create an account My SSA because I have a foreign address (cannot be verified). I need to check my SSN usage for IDENTITY THEFT and also of my children’s SSN. Please help.

  8. Elizabeth H.

    My mom received SSID AND SSD.
    My sister recently moved out of the country and is getting married end of March and giving birth end of April. My sister wants my mom there for the next 90 days (give or take). Is there anything she has to do? I can’t find any information

    • Kenny O.

      Our publication, “Your Payments While You Are Outside the United States”, explains how being outside the United States may affect your Social Security payments.
      Hi Elizabeth, thank you for your question. If your mom is a U.S. citizen, she may continue to receive payments outside the United States as long as she is eligible for payment and she is in a country where we can send payments. If your mom is not a U.S. citizen, she must meet one of the conditions for payment described in this publication.

      You may use our Payments Abroad Screening Tool to see if your mom’s 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!

  9. Fran R.

    My mother is 74 years old, a dual French/US citizen. She is widowed, and my father was also a French/US Citizen. They both moved back to France after retirement to take care of aging family, and now she feels she is too old to move back to the US again. Neither has ever filed for Social Security benefits in the US. My mother receives only $250/month in SS benefits from France, and sorely needs extra income to survive. How can she file for SS benefits from the US? Is she even eligible? Where could she go to file?

  10. Sallie P.

    I am currently receiving SSI. I live in Ontario, Canada. I am trying to notify you of my change of address. The number that is provided on your website is not working . I need the phone number to call when living outside USA to give you my change of address. Thank you

Comments are closed.