SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS U.S. CITIZENS OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES
By Kirk Larson
Social Security Washington State Public Affairs Specialist
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.
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
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.
Kirk Larson is a Social Security Administration Public Affairs Specialist located in Seattle and serving Western Washington.