General, Retirement, SSI

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

August 8, 2016 • By

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 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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Deputy Commissioner, Office of Communications

Comments

  1. NPTR

    I am married to a non us citizen and would like to correctly complete our family (husband/wife and 3 us citizen children) tax return. Can she apply for a Social Security Number? Should I file as an individual? What contact/process should we follow?

  2. DJ

    If a person is receiving social security disability and their dependent (spouse) receives a portion also – When the dependent becomes deceased, does the original persons disability payment increase due to the dependent no longer receiving payment? Or does payment stay the same for the person receiving the disability.

    • Vonda

      Hi DJ, thanks for using our blog. The amount of your widows benefit is based on several factors, including: the earnings of the person who died, when the deceased worker started receiving their benefits, your age at the time of your spouse’s death, and the amount of your own retirement benefit. We compare your own benefit with your potential survivor benefit. If your survivor benefit would be higher than your own current retirement benefit at the time of your spouse’s passing, you would be eligible for survivor benefits.

      Typically, a widow or widower at full (survivors) retirement age or older generally receives 100% of the deceased worker’s amount, a widow or widower under full retirement age receives about 71 to 99 percent of the worker’s benefit amount, and a widow or widower with a child younger than age 16 receives 75 percent of the worker’s benefit amount. For more information about how much your benefit would be, visit our Survivors web page.

  3. Florica A.

    I live in US, and I am born in Romania. I am US citizen, but because I am 65 years old and homeless, I would like to move back in Romania, and I want to know if I will continue to receive my social security in that country, where I won’t be homeless.?

    • Vonda

      Hi Florica, 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!

  4. Corina V.

    I am inquiring about care giver supplements for people who live on Guam. My grandmother is taking care of two disabled person who are receiving SSI and I need to know if Guam qualifies for the caregiver program.

    • Vonda

      Hi Corina, thanks for using our blog. We recommend that individuals living outside the United States contact the nearest Federal Benefit Unit in the area for any assistance related to Social Security programs and benefits. Also, our Office of International Operations home page provides more information to assist our customers living abroad.

  5. John R.

    to whom it may concern:
    I am a U.S citizen reaching my 62nd birthday. I
    have worked in U.S for 26 years full time and would like to apply for my social security benefits payment. I live abroad and need to know how and where could I apply so I can receive the monthly payments abroad. The consulate of U.S or where?

    • Vonda

      Hi John, thanks for using our blog. Even though you are unable to create a my Social Security account, you may still file your application online. You can apply online for retirement benefits if you:
      •are at least 61 years and 9 months old;
      •are not currently receiving benefits on your own Social Security record;
      •have not already applied for retirement benefits; and
      •want your benefits to start no more than 4 months in the future. (We cannot process your application if you apply for benefits more than 4 months in advance.)

      We recommend that individuals living outside the United States contact the nearest Federal Benefit Unit in the area for any assistance related to Social Security programs and benefits. Also, our Office of International Operations home page provides more information to assist our customers living abroad. We hope this is helpful!

  6. Mehran J.

    I am a u.s citizen who lives outside u.s and am reaching 62 and woyld like to retire at 62 but i was told if i apply from here it might take over a year before efore i can get my benefit here.question is will they pay the back payment if it takes that long?

  7. maria

    I have worked and lived in the usa.. but purchased a home in Puerto rico .. would like to be snowbirds ..

  8. amra s.

    my in-lows salih softic and Lutvija S oftic they living for Bosnia at 10/07/2020 and they coiming back on 30/ 12 /2020

  9. salih s.

    my parents inlows living usa on 071/0/2020 and they coming back on 12/30 2020

  10. Veronica B.

    To Whom It May Concern:
    I have not received my annual paperwork and I have not received my September 2020 check.

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Veronica, thanks for using our blog. If you did not receive your Social Security or SSI benefit, please contact your bank or financial institution first. They may be able to determine if your direct deposit failed. If you still need to report a late, missing or stolen Social Security payment, call us toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 for assistance or you can contact your local Social Security office. Please look for the general inquiry telephone number at the Social Security Office Locator. The number may appear under Show Additional Office Information. Please be aware that our call wait times are longer than normal. We hope this information helps.

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