If you are a U.S. citizen and qualify for Social Security, you can receive payments while living in most other countries. Under Treasury Department sanctions, Social Security will not send money to anyone residing in Cuba or North Korea, although affected U.S. citizens can recoup payments once they move elsewhere.
Americans living in nine other countries — Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan — can receive Social Security payments only under certain strict conditions, one of which is agreeing to appear personally at a U.S. embassy or consulate every six months.
To check on your eligibility to receive benefits in a foreign country, you can:
- Use Social Security’s online screening tool for international payments.
- Call Social Security’s Office of Earnings & International Operations at 410-965-2356.
- Contact a Social Security office abroad.
If you have other questions, it’s best to review the Social Security publication “Your Payments While You Are Outside the United States.”
Keep in mind
- Social Security defines living outside the United States as not residing 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 for at least 30 days in a row. If you return to the United States and stay for more than 30 consecutive days, you are no longer considered to be living abroad.
- Social Security sends recipients living abroad a questionnaire every one or two years (the frequency depends on age, country of residence and other factors) to confirm they remain eligible for benefits. Failing to return the questionnaire will halt your payments.
- The overwhelming majority of Social Security recipients abroad get their benefits deposited electronically, either in a U.S. bank or in a financial institution in a country with which the United States has a direct-deposit agreement. If you use a foreign bank, it may charge fees on international transactions, for which you are responsible.
- No matter where you live, your payments will be calculated in U.S. dollars.