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 eight other countries — Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan 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.
Non-U.S. citizens who qualify for benefits based on their own work history may be able to get them abroad, depending on their country of citizenship and country of residence (and subject to the previously noted payment restrictions). Noncitizens eligible for family or survivor benefits may need to meet additional conditions.
To find out if you are eligible to receive benefits in a foreign country, contact Social Security’s Office of Earnings & International Operations at www.ssa.gov/foreign or 410-965-0160. To learn more, go to www.ssa.gov/pubs and search for the brochure “Your Payments While You Are Outside the United States.”
No matter where you live, your payments will be calculated in U.S. dollars.
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.