Check in with Social Security before traveling outside the United States

Mark Twain once advised people to “Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Americans today take that advice to heart, and are visiting and relocating to places around the globe.

For people who travel and receive Social Security benefits, the Social Security Administration offers a special website: “Social Security Payments Outside the United States.”

Here people can find answers to such questions as “Will my Social Security payments be affected? Do I have to let Social Security know I’m out of the country? When should I do it? What happens if I need to contact Social Security while I am out of the country?”

In addition, the website features a “Payments Abroad Screening Tool”, which asks you a few short questions to determine if your payments can continue.

The page also offers links to publications, such as “Your Payments

While You Are Outside the United States,” which explains how your benefits may be affected and other important information people need to know about receiving Social Security benefits while outside the country.

If a person receives Social Security benefits as a dependent or survivor there are additional United States residency requirements that may affect benefit payments while the person is outside the United States.

Supplemental Security Income has different provisions for recipients. Once a person has been outside the United States for 30 or more days in a row, SSI payments cannot start again until the person has been back in the country for at least 30 consecutive days.

There are special rules for dependent children of military personnel who leave the United States and exceptions for students studying abroad.

So if you receive Social Security or SSI benefits and are planning to travel or live outside the United States, you’ll first want to pay a visit to www.socialsecurity.gov/international/payments.html.

Ed Evans is a Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in Seattle

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