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. Kim S.

    I am thinking about living in England. How will that effect my SSI?

  2. Michael

    If my residency is in a foreign country, can I open an account for online services, such as “my Social Security”?
    If not, it is a real problem…getting regular mail takes as much as a month and is not very secure.

    • Ann C.

      We are sorry for the inconvenience, Michael. The “my Social Security” authentication system requires address verification as one of the essential criteria for issuing an account. People with APO/FPO/DPO addresses can create an account overseas, but our system does not support registration and account creation for users with a foreign address yet. Please contact your local U.S. embassy or consulate for any assistance related to your Social Security benefits.

  3. Nasreen

    My 4 year old daughter Juwayria was born in reston virginia usa
    She was diagnosed as midly autistic
    We now live in the militancy hit kp province of Pakistan
    Her condition has detoriated because there are no facilities for early intervention in autistic kids
    She has a great chance if she is given special care in usa which i cannot afford
    Pls help my daughter
    Best wishes

  4. Thomas E.

    RE: SSA-7162-OCR-SM, Report to the United States Social Security Administration.

    I received a delayed form n September due a cock up with the Post Office of Costa Rica. So immediately on September 23, 2016, bus home and called SSA at 1-800-772-1213 waiting 58 minutes online for an agent. I got one and he helped filed the form over the phone.

    Now today, I go to the Post Office here and guess what, I had a new form with a promise to cut off my fund in 45 days if I don’t do the form. This one “Second request Oct 05, 2016.” Now I am waiting online for a wait of thirty-five minutes to walk through this again. Will your office in Wilkes Barrie PA 18767-7162, be happy with me UNLESS I DO SEND in the form? You cut off a friend here because she never got the form and it cost her $30 and must upset to get the US Embassy in San Jose to fix her money-held-back-problem? Location the SSA employee in San Jose who could help her was a major part of her nightmare I recall.

    What is your best advice? Are the phone agents ever authorized to do this for me?

  5. koreen

    I was dupe by receiving benefits too early,no one said that that it would impact your monthly benefits .I for one am still smarting for signing up at 63+

  6. Fahmi N.

    Over half a million receiving benefits, not all have current US addresses. Those sith no US address can not benefit from online access, according to present requirements. Will you revisit the requirement that excludes all these people?

  7. tony

    The SSA is a bunch of crooks. You become vested in the retirement plan and they can’t guarantee you nothing.

    Increase the amount of credits needed if they are not vested yet. Increase their age if they are not vested yet. Why does the SSA rip people off who are vested in their retirement plan?

    The local government and private sector doesn’t do this to people who are vested in their retirement plan.

    • tony

      You work early in life, minimum wage is low and your earnings are low. You become vested and your benefits are low.

      A person who works later in life has a higher wage due to cost of living and higher minimum wage.

      If they only work 40 credits to get vested, the person doing the 40 credits later in life would get more. The person who is vested later in life causes more benefits to be paid out for the same amount of credits.

      A person who start working when they are 18-67 has 49 years of service. Only 35 of those years are calculated. Instead of increasing the age, increase the years of service. Those who have not work as long would make less.

  8. Eric K.

    I am an American citizen currently living in Taiwan. I will most likely retire here in Taiwan. Will I be able to apply for and receive SS benefits once I reach retirement age?

    Thank you.

  9. Stephen

    The new 10 digit cell phone number requirement to log onto my S.S. has effectively block out millions of expats who need to add a country code in order to get the security code text message. All other service providers who have this requirement at least had the common sense to allow for 13 digit cell numbers so as not block out customers with cell phone in foreign countries.

  10. tony

    A worker has a 1 in 4 chance of becoming disabled before they retire. What are the chances of a lazy bum who never work a day in their lives becoming disabled?

    • tony

      The people on SSDI is only one fourth of the total people on Social Security Retirement.

      The people on SSI disability is doubled the amount of people on SSI older than 65.

      The SSA has been handing out free SSI money, Medicaid, and Section 8 housing to these lazy people on SSI. They are going to live longer and put a burden on SSI older than 65 in the future just like the people receiving Social Security Retirement are doing now. There is going to be an explosion of these people on SSI for people over 65.

      The Medicaid expansion really messed up the SSI program because more people are able to get disability through medical records and live longer to receive SSI for people over 65.

      There is so much fraud in SSI from people working, hiding resources, and moving outside the US.

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