Social Security – Expat Information – Part 1

This will be a several part post about old and new requirements from the Social Security Administration as it relates to those of us living outside of the United States,

A form, Proof of Life, will be required from Social Security for folks living outside of the United States and receiving social security benefits. I will cover that form in the next article because it is such an important topic for those of us who rely on those funds for our existence, that I am not going to rush over the guidelines as they apply to us living out of the US.

First please read what Social Security has to say about using addresses in the United States if living in a foreign country for over three months.

Social Security Online  POMS Section: GN 02401.080


Effective Dates: 04/20/2004 – Present

TN 17 (04-04)

GN 02401.080 Use of United States Address by Beneficiary Abroad


A beneficiary abroad may use a U.S. mailing address when the beneficiary:

  • Has an APO/FPO address;
  • Has a representative payee in the U.S.; or
  • Will be abroad for 3 months or less.

The beneficiary must keep SSA advised of his residence address at all time for beneficiary contact and foreign enforcement purposes.


A beneficiary abroad may not use a mailing address in the U.S. when the beneficiary is:

  • In a barred country (RS 02650.001); or
  • Abroad for more than 3 months.

Checks for beneficiaries abroad more than 3 months may not be sent to a relative or friend in the U.S. except during interim periods while developing a proper mailing address.

A beneficiary living outside the U.S. may have a foreign address and direct deposit to a U.S. financial institution (FI). See GN 02402.110. See also International Direct Deposit, GN 02402.201.

See GN 02402.080 for the use of a Power of Attorney when International Direct Deposit is not available in the country of residence and the beneficiary wants checks mailed directly to an FI in the country of residence.


12 thoughts on “Social Security – Expat Information – Part 1

  1. Nancy, I will start my SS in August. I just applied online and sent them info for my money to be direct deposited in my bank in the states. I don’t think they even send checks anymore. Everything has to be direct deposited. I told my representative that I have a house in the states, but I spend most of my time abroad. She didn’t seem too concerned. These forms are so confusing, aren’t they? According to this: A beneficiary can’t use a US mailing address if out of the country more than 3 months, but can have a US bank and a foreign address and direct deposit SS into a US bank. So, what if we still own a house in the US? Crazy! I’m going to continue using my US address.

    • Deb, Hi, Joe and I have followed what we knew to be the SS laws and IRS laws all the while that we have been out of the states. I just don’t want them stopping Joe’s benefits because we failed to inform them where we were living. Everyone needs to make their own decision on how they handle the address issue, after you are on National and probably International TV with House Hunters you may need to rethink your address as well, Nancy

      • LOL! Never thought about that. But, I think it may be different since we still own a home in the states. We’re still considered legal residents and pay our property taxes and have our mail delivered there. I told the representative that we were living in Nicaragua, but we also had a home in the states. I really think we’re fine.

        • Deb, everything is subjective I guess, we don’t have another address so we don’t have a choice. Works for us. Nancy

            • Hi Deb, thanks if the electric stays on for a little bit I may be able to post the Proof of Life form today. Yesterday our suicide shower in the master bath died and last night at 9:30pm the one line to a breaker on the outside of the house got a bit charred ja ja so we only had electricity in a portion of the house. I was running extension cords all around the house trying to get the refrigerator running as well as the fan in our bedroom. If someone was watching they would have thought I was a bit off, running outside every few minutes to the storage closet for these items. Now the plug for the refrigerator is acting up…never ending when you own a house, don’t you know? Have a great day, N

              • Nancy, something weird is happening here, too. Do you think there is some kind of electrical or magnetic storm brewing? Yesterday, our bedroom fan quit running, our TV lost it’s picture, the toilet broke, our water filter tank overflowed ( no telling how that happened), and the light in the casita won’t turn on. Honestly this retired homeowner stuff is difficult. 🙂 Hope you get everything fixed soon.

                • Deb, home ownership is a full time job. Thank God we have a great electrical guy, he came over yesterday and fixed our shower and came back again this morning and replaced the burnt wire on the one breaker. I have a load of laundry going, my ironing is almost done and maybe in a few minutes I can take a nice long relaxing shower, which I 100% deserve. Would love to have a tub for just these strange days where I could fill it with wonderful bubbles and just float away for a half hour…maybe we can go sit on the sand for a few hours this morning, no phone, no electric issues ja ja Nancy

    • Janispaqu. We have never gotten a mailed check, they have always been a direct deposit. Here we would never see a check because the mail system is not like the US. I have not gotten a piece of mail in almost a year, I know that somewhere in the postal system there are notifications from several places including the IRS and SS but mail delivery is not a reality here in San Clemente. I post what I find out about, folks do what they want to do. I am not a Social Security employee, just a nice gal trying to keep folks aware of the requirements. Good Day! Nancy

  2. So, in other words, persons living abroad more than 3 months must provide an international address, but may have funds direct deposited to a US financial institution. Correct ?

    • Linda, Yes, that is what I get from this information. They just want to know where you are really living. Nancy

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