Leaving the country? First use the Payments Abroad Screening Tool.

Several months ago, I wrote about receiving Social Security benefits when outside of the United States.  

Recently a new tool was added to the Social Security website, www.socialsecurity.gov, to help people easily find out if they can continue receiving their Social Security payments when outside of the country. 

Named the Payments Abroad Screening Tool, this tool is easy to use. All you do is answer a series of primarily yes or no questions. Your answers determine the next question. All are simple, and you will quickly come to your answer. 

Note: Payment Abroad Screening Tool questions ask if you are receiving Title II Social Security payments. Title II refers to Title 2 of the original 1935 Social Security Act. All Social Security retirement, survivors and disability related benefits are within Title II. 

For Social Security Administration purposes, you are outside the United States if 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. Once outside of the United States for at least 30 days in a row, you are considered to be outside the country until you return and stay in the U.S. for at least 30 days in a row.  

Use the Payments Abroad Screening Tool if you plan to leave the country. Assuming otherwise eligible, United States citizens can receive Social Security payments without restriction in most, but not all, foreign countries. If you a citizen of another country, there might, or might not, be restrictions related to receiving Social Security payments outside of the United States.  Much depends on your country of citizenship, where you are going, and the type of Social Security benefits involved. 

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is not paid if you leave the United States. 

Medicare generally does not cover health services outside the United States. In rare cases, usually involving medical emergencies, some inpatient services in Canada or Mexico might be covered. See www.medicare.gov or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) for more information. TTY users can call Medicare at 1-877-486-2048.

Read Your Payments While You Are Outside the United States (SSA publication 05-10137) if you receive Social Security and plan to be outside of the United States for an extended period. Contact Social Security in advance to continue benefits. Additional information is at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/international/payments.html.

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