Social Security benefits are not limited to residents of the United States. In fact, payments are disbursed to recipients in various countries worldwide, with a few exceptions. According to the Social Security Administration, U.S. citizens can receive their payments internationally, provided they meet eligibility criteria and reside in a country where payments are sent. Non-U.S. citizens, on the other hand, must fulfill specific conditions to qualify for these payments.
To be considered as living “outside the United States,” it entails not being present in any of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, or American Samoa for a continuous period of at least 30 days. The Social Security Administration (SSA) regards individuals as “outside the United States” until they return and remain in the U.S. for a minimum of 30 consecutive days.
Nations Where Social Security Payments from the U.S. Are Unavailable
If you are a U.S. citizen residing in either Cuba or North Korea, you have the opportunity to receive the withheld payments from the Social Security Administration (SSA) once you relocate to a country where payments are permitted. However, if you are not a U.S. citizen, you will not receive payments for the months you resided in Cuba or North Korea, even if you move to another country and meet all other requirements.
Countries That United States don´t send Social Security Payment
If you are not a U.S. citizen, you may also need to provide evidence of lawful presence in the United States during that 30-day timeframe. As of June 2023, the following ten countries are among those where the United States does not send Social Security payments:
- North Korea
Regarding the other eight countries on the restricted list, the SSA has stated that exceptions can be made for certain eligible individuals. To qualify for such an exception, you must fulfill specific criteria and adhere to restricted payment conditions. For detailed information regarding these conditions and the qualifications for an exception, it is advisable to get in touch with the Social Security Administration or your Federal Benefits Unit.
If you are not a U.S. citizen or fail to meet one of the prescribed conditions for ongoing payments, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will cease your payments once you have been outside the United States for a complete six-calendar-month period. Once this occurs, the agency cannot resume your payments until you return and stay in the U.S. for an entire calendar month. This entails being present in the U.S. from the first minute of the first day of a given month until the last minute of the last day of that same month. Additionally, the SSA may request proof of lawful presence in the United States for the entirety of that calendar month.
What are the residency requirements to receive Social Security payments outside of the United States?
To receive Social Security payments outside of the United States, the following residency requirements apply:
- Physical presence in the United States: When visiting the United States, you must provide proof of your physical presence in the country. This can be done by providing documents such as an official U.S. Government document from the Department of Homeland Security or a payment receipt showing your name, date, and location of a purchase in the United States. If proof is not available, a signed statement from someone who has knowledge of your U.S. visit can be accepted.
- Duration of visit: The residency requirements vary depending on the length of your visit to the United States:
- For a one-day visit, you must provide proof of physical presence for that specific date or dates.
- For a 30-day or full calendar month visit, you must provide a statement of the dates you entered and left the United States, along with an explanation that you did not go outside the United States during those dates.
- Eligibility based on citizenship: If you are a U.S. citizen, you may receive your Social Security payments outside the U.S. as long as you are eligible for them. However, there are certain countries to which Social Security cannot send payments. If you are a citizen of one of those countries, your Social Security payments will continue as long as you are eligible for them.
- Eligibility for non-U.S. citizens: Non-U.S. citizens who qualify for Social Security benefits based on their own work history or as dependents or survivors may be able to receive benefits abroad, depending on their country of citizenship and country of residence. However, there may be additional conditions and restrictions. To determine eligibility, it is recommended to contact Social Security’s Office of Earnings & International Operations or use the Payments Abroad Screening Tool.
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI): SSI is a different program that provides income to elderly or disabled people with little income or resources. It cannot be collected while living in another country and is only available to individuals living in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, or the Northern Mariana Islands.
For further information, please visit the SSA website or contact 800-772-1213.