Do you lose social security living overseas?

In this report we ask, Do you lose Social Security Living Overseas?

I travel all over the world, 65 countries so far. I meet Americans living their retirement on social security all over the world. I have no specialized knowledge about social security but let me tell you what they have told me and what I have read online about retiring abroad on social security. But talk to the Social Security Administration or your lawyer before making any final decision.

Do you lose Social Security Living Overseas?

My search today found three kinds of benefits people receive from the Social Security Administration of the USA. The first two are based upon disability, the third kind of benefit is for retirement.

Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, provides support to the disabled and elderly with little to no income. One does not need to have a work history to qualify for SSI.

Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI, requires a work history to qualify for jobs that paid into FICA (the Federal Insurance Contributions Act).

According to the Day Law Group, SSI benefits stop “if you remain outside the USA for 30 days” and there is a “30-day waiting period before your benefits can be reinstated.” Whereas, the United States has agreements with 50+ other countries that allow US Citizens to “move to one of these other countries to continue to receive their SSDI benefits,” so long as they remain eligible otherwise. Id.

However, SSDI payments are subject to periodic examinations so you should not move overseas without talking to the SSA or a lawyer specializing in this area. You need to get clear about how to meet the SSDI requirements such as periodic physical exam compliance while living in a foreign country.

The third kind of benefit is the retirement benefit. The Social Security Administration published a booklet called, “Your Payments While You Are Outside the USA,” June 2020. The booklet states,

This booklet explains how being outside the United States may affect your Social Security payments. It also provides the information you need to report to us, and how to report it.

We calculate Social Security benefits in U.S. dollars. We do not increase or decrease your benefits because of changes in international exchange rates.

Eligible countries and Ineligible countries:

The U.S. Department of the Treasury prohibits making payments to persons residing in Cuba or North Korea.

Citizens versus non-citizens:

If you are a U.S. citizen residing in Cuba or North Korea, you can get all the payments we withhold once you move to a country where we can send payments.

Withhold until or Never Pay (Citizens versus non-citizens):

Under the Social Security Act, if you are not a U.S. citizen, you cannot receive payments for the months you lived in Cuba or North Korea, even if you go to another country and satisfy all other requirements.

Page 2:

Residing in versus Sending Payments to:

Generally, we cannot send Social Security payments to persons in Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. However, we can make exceptions for certain eligible persons in these countries. To qualify for an exception, you must meet and agree to restricted payment conditions. If you do not qualify for an exception, we will withhold your payments until you leave the country with Social Security restrictions and go to a country where we can send payments. If you are not a U.S. citizen, you must meet one of the conditions for payment described in this publication.

Do you lose Social Security Living Overseas?

If you are a U.S. citizen, you may continue to receive payments outside the United States as long as you are eligible for payment and you are in a country where we can send payments. If you are not a U.S. citizen, you must meet one of the conditions for payment described in this publication.

Page 3:

Outside versus inside the USA:

When we say you are “outside the United States,” we mean you are not 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. We consider you to be “outside the United States” until you return and stay in the United States for at least 30 days in a row. If you are not a U.S. citizen, you also may have to prove you were lawfully present in the United States for that 30-day period.

Page 3:

Stopping payments after 6 months:

If you are not a U.S. citizen or you do not meet one of the conditions for continued payments, we will stop your payments after you have been outside the United States for six full calendar months. Once this happens, we cannot start your payments again until you come back and stay in the United States for a full calendar month.

Page 4:

Conditions for payments to continue while you are outside the United States:

If you are not a U.S. citizen, you must meet the conditions described in this section to continue receiving benefits outside the United States. You must also remain eligible for benefits and live in a country where we can send payments. You can use the Payments Abroad Screening Tool to determine whether you meet the conditions for payments to continue while you are outside the United States. The Payments Abroad Screening Tool is on our website: payments_outsideUS.html. This section continues to discuss conditions for continued payment outside the USA for non-citizens. The conditions for continued payments include citizens from certain countries, with or without benefits from their own earnings, with or without certain residency requirements in the USA, with or without being a survivor or dependent, citizens or residents of countries with agreements with the USA, and more. 

Page 11:

Things you must report to the SSA:

Change of address, work outside the USA, disability improvements, returning to work after disability, marriage, divorce, annulment, child leaves, disabled child, death, incapacity, deportation, pension eligibility. The booklet also describes details on each reporting and how to report and where.

Page 14:

The Foreign Work Test:

Describes how benefits may be affected by foreign work reported.

Page 15:

The Annual Retirement Test:

Under the annual retirement test, you can still get all benefits due for the year if your earnings do not exceed the annual exempt amount.

Page 17:

Reporting Disability Improvements:

If you get payments because you are disabled, let us know right away if your condition improves and you go back to work. We will continue to send you payments for up to nine months when you go back to work. This nine-month “trial work period” gives you a chance to test whether you are able to work without worrying about payments stopping. If, after nine months, you continue working, we will continue to pay you for three more months. If you aren’t able to keep working after the trial work period, you will continue to get disability benefits.

Divorce/Annulment Reporting:

Notify us of your marriage annulment or divorce. Divorce or annulment doesn’t necessarily mean we will stop your Social Security payments. If you are getting payments based on your own work record, divorce, or annulment of your marriage will not affect your payments. Also, if you are a spouse age 62 or older and you were married to the worker for 10 years or more, we will continue your payments even if you divorce. Contact us if your name changes, so your new name will appear on your payments.

Page 22:


We send questionnaires to persons receiving social security benefits (or their representative payees) outside the United States every year or every two years. Your answers will help us determine if you are still eligible for benefits. This section will explain when you should receive a questionnaire. If you do not receive your questionnaire when you are supposed to, you should contact the Social Security Administration or your Federal Benefits Unit.

Page 25:

Advance Designation of Representative Payee

You can select a representative payee to receive your benefits in the event you become incapacitated. If you are unable to manage or direct others to manage your benefits in the future, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that someone you trust, and have already chosen in advance, may be appointed to manage your benefits.

Page 28:

Electronic Payments:

Electronic payments Direct deposit has several advantages. You never have to worry about your check being delayed in the mail, lost, or stolen. With direct deposit, you receive your payment much faster than if you receive payment by check (usually one to three weeks faster than check deliveries). When we directly deposit benefits to a financial institution, you also may avoid check cashing and currency conversion fees. If you did not sign up for electronic payments when you applied for benefits, you should do so immediately. If you still receive paper checks, the U.S. Department of the Treasury will contact you about receiving payments electronically. Even when you get your payments by direct deposit, you must let us know your residence address. Unless one of the payment restrictions described in this publication applies, we can deposit your benefits directly into your account at a U.S. financial institution no matter where you live. If you live outside the United States, unless a payment restriction applies, we can deposit your benefits into your account at a financial institution in any country that has an international direct deposit agreement with the United States. To see a list of countries that have international direct deposit agreements with the United States, visit: countrylist6.htm, or contact your nearest Social Security office or Federal Benefits Unit.

Page 29:

Direct Express Debit Card:

Another option to receive your benefits electronically is to use the Direct Express® debit card. You do not need a bank account. With the Direct Express® card program, we deposit your federal benefit payment directly onto your card account. Your monthly benefits are available on your payment day.

Page 30:

US Income Tax:

If you are a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident of the United States (Green Card holder), you are subject to U.S. income tax laws no matter where you live. This means that your worldwide income, including up to 85 percent of the Social Security benefits you get, may be subject to federal income tax.

Do You Lose Medicare if You Move to Another Country?

Page 26:


Medicare Benefits:

Medicare generally does not cover health services you get outside the United States. Part A becomes available to you if you return to the United States. We do not withhold monthly premiums from your benefit payment for this protection. If you want Part B, you must enroll. If you do, we normally will withhold a monthly premium from your payment. Because Medicare benefits are available only in the United States, it may not be to your advantage to sign up and pay the premium for medical insurance if you will be out of the United States for a long period of time. However, if you do not sign up, be aware that if you do so at a later date, you will pay a 10 percent higher premium for each 12-month period you could have been enrolled, but were not.


SSI benefits stop if you remain outside the USA for 30 days. SSDI may continue if you otherwise remain eligible and move to one of the 50+ countries in agreement with the USA.

Retirement social security has a different set of rules depending upon whether you are a US citizen or a Non-US citizen, what country you intend to settle, and whether or not you comply with the reporting and other requirements. As you would suspect, a retired US citizen has an easier set of rules but you should consult with the Social Security Administration or your Federal Benefits Unit listed in the last section of this publication titled “Contacting Social Security” on the last page.

To see our retire cheap reports for all of these cities visit To have a copy of my free eBook emailed to you, visit this link, How I Fired My Boss and Traveled the World for 13 Years. To learn how I paid for our world travel expenses for 2020 read how I pay for things without having a soul-sucking job.

Thanks for reading my post–Do you lose social security living overseas?

This is Dan of Vagabond Awake, the YouTube Channel for Vagabond Buddha. The world is your home, what time will you be home for dinner?