SSA logo: link to Social Security Online home1844. Absence from the U.S.

1844.1 When does a period of absence from the U.S. begin if you are not a United States citizen or national?

If you are an alien, a period of absence from the U.S. begins with the first full (24-hour) day you are outside the U.S.

1844.2 Are benefits affected if you return within 30 days?

If you are an alien and return to the U.S. before 30 full days in a row have passed, we consider your period of absence as broken. Your benefits are not affected.

EXAMPLE: Ms. Kopper leaves the U.S. on March 31 and returns on April 30. Since she is outside the U.S. for only 29 full days (April 1-April 29), her period of absence is considered broken and her benefits are not affected.

1844.3 Are benefits affected if you remain outside the U.S. for 30 days?

If you are an alien and have been outside the U.S. for 30 consecutive days, the 6 month period of absence begins and is counted from the first day of the first full month of absence. A return to the U.S. of at least 30 consecutive days causes a break in the 6 month period of absence. When the 6 month period is broken, it does not start again until you again leave the U.S. for at least 30 consecutive days. The 30 consecutive days is defined as 24 hours of each and every day of the period.

EXAMPLE: Miss Kelly leaves the U.S. on May 15, returns on August 1, and leaves again on August 20. Because she is outside the U.S. for (at least) 30 consecutive days, her August visit of less than 30 days does not break her period of absence and her benefits are suspended effective December, the seventh month after her departure month of May. If Miss Kelly had delayed her second departure until September 1, she would have been in the U.S. for 30 full days (August 2-August 31). The period of absence that began on May 16 would have been broken and a new period of absence would have begun effective September 2.

1844.4 Can benefits start again after they have been suspended?

If you are an alien, once your benefits have been suspended because of your absence from the U.S. for six consecutive calendar months or more, they may not start again until you return to the U.S., lawfully present, and remain for one full calendar month. NOTE: It is not always necessary for a beneficiary in alien suspense to return to the United States in order to receive payments. A beneficiary may reside in one of the Totalization countries (a country with which the U.S. has an international social security agreement) or reside in the United States. Your benefits continue if you reside in a country with which the U.S. has an international social security agreement and the withholding of benefits would be against the terms of that agreement (see §107).

EXAMPLE: Mr. Michael's benefits are suspended in October because of his absence from the U.S. for six consecutive calendar months or more. He returns to the U.S. on January 31. Mr. Michael's benefits are resumed for February, the first full calendar month he spends in the U.S. (Note that the number of days in the calendar month is not a factor.) He again leaves the U.S. on March 1 to live in Spain. Since Spain has an international social security agreement with the U.S., his benefits are continued as long as he lives in Spain.

Last Revised: Feb. 3, 2009