Social Security payments and Medicare are two issues that elicit plenty of questions in the American Citizens’ Services section. Here is a very brief description of what the situation is with social security payments when you are outside of the U.S., who may be entitled to receive those payments, and what additional steps may be required in order to continue receiving your payments.

It is impossible to address all possible questions about Social Security in this limited space. If you have questions that are not addressed in the following information, please contact the Federal Benefits Unit at the American Embassy in Mexico City, phone number 01 (55) 5080 2903.

First of all, if you are a U.S. citizen, you may receive your social security payments outside the U.S. as long as you are eligible for them. If you are a citizen of Mexico, or one of a number of other countries, including Canada, you may also continue receiving your payments as long as you are outside of the United States, unless you are receiving your payments as a dependent or a survivor. In that case, there are additional requirements you have to meet.

If you are not a citizen of the United States, Mexico, Canada or the United Kingdom or one of a number of other countries (you can get a list from the Consulate), your payments will stop after you have been out of the United States for six full calendar months, unless you meet one of the following exceptions:
1.You were eligible for monthly Social Security benefits for December 1956;
2.You are in the active military or naval service of the U.S.;
3.The worker on whose record your benefits are based had railroad work which was treated as covered employment by the Social Security program;
4.The worker on whose record your benefits are based died while in the U.S. military service or as a result of a service-connected disability and was not dishonorably discharged;
5.You are a resident of a country in which the U.S. has a Social Security agreement (Mexico is not one of those countries yet, but stay tuned).
6.You are a citizen of a one of a number of other countries and the worker your benefits are based on lived in the U.S. for 10 years and accrued 40 earning credits (see Mexico City to verify if this exception applies to you).

If you are not a U.S. citizen and none of these exceptions apply to you, then your payments will stop after six months outside of the U.S., and cannot be started again until you spend one full calendar month in the United States. You must also prove that you were legally in the United States during the calendar month in question.

If you are living outside of the United States, you will periodically receive a questionnaire from Social Security to determine whether or not you are still eligible for benefits. You must return this questionnaire as quickly as possible, or your benefits may stop. If you change your address, or go back to work, marry or divorce, or if the beneficiary of social security payments should die, it is your responsibility to notify us immediately about those sorts of changes that could affect your payments.

We highly recommend that you have your social security payment deposited directly in your bank account rather than having the check sent to you here. That way, there is no chance that it will get lost in the mail. It is also faster and more reliable, and much easier to track if a check goes astray.

In the case of the death of someone receiving social security benefits, the benefits stop immediately, and are not payable for the month in which they died. For example, if the annuitant dies in June, the payment that would be received in July should be returned, as it is for the month of June.

Medicare is another topic of great interest. Medicare does not provide coverage outside of the United States. If you reside outside of the U.S., and you wish to sign up for Medicare, you may; you should be aware that the monthly premium will be deducted from your benefits, even if you are not in the U.S. You should also be aware that when you do sign up, your premium will be 10% higher for each 12-month period that you could have been enrolled but were not.

If you have additional questions, or wish more details on your personal situation, please contact the Federal Benefits office at the Embassy, or www.ssa.gov. We can only help with very limited questions here at the Consulate.

US Consulate
Calle 60, #338-K x 29 y 31
Colonia Alcalá Martín
Mérida, Yucatán, México 97050
Tel: (999) 942 5700
Fax: (999) 942 5759
Email: [email protected]