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Understanding Your Social Security…Reminders For Senior Travel Abroad

An old family friend has planned an overseas trip this summer to research his family’s roots.  He asked if there were any Social Security or Medicare travel tips that he and his wife should know.  Here is what I told him and it may be useful to those who are planning a trip abroad in the near future.    

First, if you haven’t already done so, you should sign up for direct deposit.  It’s the easiest and most secure way to receive your benefit payments, whether you’re at home or halfway around the world.  With direct deposit, you never have to worry about your check being lost or stolen.  And direct deposit makes funds instantly available to you even when you are not at home to receive and cash your checks.   

You should also be familiar with how your Medicare coverage works outside the United States.  Be aware that Medicare, in most cases, does not pay for hospital or medical services outside the U.S., except for some emergency services in Mexico and Canada.  That is the case even if you get sick or hurt while traveling.

It’s always important to safeguard your Social Security number whether you’re in your own hometown or traveling abroad.  You should always treat your Social Security number as confidential information and avoid giving it out unnecessarily.  Do not carry it with you unless you will need to show it to a service provider during your trip.  The fewer people with access to your number, the safer you are.  That advice is doubly important as you travel far from home.  

Last but not least, if you plan to stay outside the country more than 30 days, other rules may apply.  You can find out about these rules and more by visiting our online publications at

www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/.  Look for the publication Your Payments While You Are Outside the United States.  Or you can call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) to ask for a copy to be mailed to you.

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