By Kirk Larson
Social Security Western Washington Public Affairs Specialist
Social Security has you covered, even outside our nation’s borders. We’re with you through life’s journey, even if you’re traveling outside the United States. Many people who travel or live outside the country 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. Whether you’re off to Europe, or considering a stay in our newly reopened neighbor, Cuba, you may be able to receive your Social Security benefits even while you’re outside the United States. If you receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you cannot receive benefits if you’re outside of the United States for a month or more.
If you’re 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.
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, we send you a questionnaire periodically. 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.
Securing today and tomorrow is our priority, no matter where you might be living.
Kirk Larson is a Social Security Administration Public Affairs Specialist located in Seattle and serving Western Washington.