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Ask Ms. Medicare

Contacting Social Security From Overseas

Q. How do I contact Social Security from outside the United States?

A. This is a question many readers ask—most often because they now live abroad where they can’t use Medicare services and want to opt out of Part B instead of continuing to pay the monthly premiums. To do that, you must contact the Social Security Administration, which handles Medicare enrollment issues. But you can’t call its main toll-free phone number from overseas.

However, you can get in touch with the SSA from outside the United States by mail, fax or phone (though not e-mail). In all cases, make sure that you provide your Social Security number.

By mail

Write to:

Social Security Administration
Office of International Operations
P.O. Box 17769
Baltimore, MD 21235-7769
USA

By fax

Send your letter to +1 410-597-1800.

By phone

You’ll have to pay for the call because Social Security doesn’t have a toll-free number that can be used from abroad. Also, you need to call during normal business hours for the U.S. Eastern time zone. Choose one of the following phone numbers according to the last two digits of your Social Security number.

If your SSN’s last two digits are ...  

the number to call is:

Between 00 and  16

+1 410-965-9418

Between 17 and 32

+1 410-965-6517

Between 33 and 49

+1 410-965-8064

Between 50 and 66

+1 410-965-9398

Between 67 and 82

+1 410-965-8036

Between 83 and 99

+1 410-965-8037

You can use these ways of connecting with the SSA if you’re already entitled to Social Security benefits and need to discuss any issues or provide new information, such as a change of address or marital status. If you want to opt out of Medicare Part B, Social Security officials will want to be sure you understand the consequences—for example, that if you return to the United States and wish to re-enroll you would face a late penalty. Different phone numbers should be used in these situations:

To inquire about a new or replacement Social Security card, call +1 410-965-9334.

To inquire about the status of your claim if you’ve applied for Social Security benefits, call +1 410-965-0160.

For information on receiving Social Security retirement or disability payments while overseas, go to the agency’s Office of International Operations website.

Patricia Barry is a senior editor at the AARP Bulletin.

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