Social Security is with you through life’s journey, even if that journey takes you far, far away. Over half a million American citizens live outside the United States and receive some kind of Social Security benefit, including retired and disabled workers, as well as spouses, widows, widowers, and children.
You can help your employees get ready for a retirement outside the United States by making sure they’re informed. Your employees may need to know what the rules are for family benefits when they move abroad and how employment after retirement may affect their benefits. These rules vary for several countries and are affected when a beneficiary’s spouse or child is not a U.S. citizen. Knowing this information ahead of time may help your employees make sound retirement choices.
Your employees may receive their Social Security payments outside the United States as long as they’re eligible. When we say “outside the United States,” we mean they’re not living 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.
To find out whether they can receive Social Security benefits in the country where they’re retiring, your employees should use Social Security’s Payments Abroad Screening Tool. This tool will help them find out if their retirement, disability, or survivor’s payments will continue as long as they’re eligible, if they’ll stop after six consecutive calendar months, or if there are certain country specific restrictions that apply.
When beneficiaries live outside the United States, periodically Social Security will send them a questionnaire to make sure they’re still eligible for benefits. All recipients will need to do is return the questionnaire as soon as possible. If they don’t return a completed form, their payments will stop. In addition to responding to the questionnaire, beneficiaries will need to notify us promptly about changes that could affect their payments, such as death, divorce, remarriage, and the birth of additional children.
Your employees can start planning their retirement abroad today. Read the publication Your Payments While You Are Outside the United States for more information, or visit Social Security’s International Programs & Resources website.