New applicants for Social Security and Supplemental Security Income benefits must
receive their payments electronically. Treasury instituted an all-electronic initiative
that required check receivers to switch to an electronic form of payment. Treasury
determined that beneficiaries living in a foreign country who refuse to participate
in electronic payments based on hardship can file for a waiver.
While we prefer to pay beneficiaries in foreign countries electronically, Treasury
may grant an exemption to the electronic payment requirement based on certain conditions.
Please see Direct Deposit Policy regarding other exemptions to Treasury’s All Electronic
Payment Initiative in GN 02402.001. This policy applies regardless of date of eligibility. Pay benefits by check if
a beneficiary residing outside the U.S. inquires about a waiver from the direct deposit
requirement or otherwise indicates that payment by direct deposit would impose a hardship.
NOTE: Because of local automated clearinghouse (ACH) requirements, Treasury generally makes
IDD payments in local currencies. Interviewers in claims-taking Federal Benefits Units
(FBUs) or border offices should ask if the beneficiary has an account in either the
U.S. or an IDD country. If the answer is yes, interviewers should assume that the
beneficiary will receive payment by direct deposit. If the answer is no, ask them
if they would like to enroll for direct deposit. If they do not wish to enroll for
direct deposit, inform the beneficiary that he or she can file for a waiver. When
developing a claim by mail from a claimant in a country with no claims-taking unit,
Office Earnings and International Operations (OEIO) should inform the claimant about
the availability of direct deposit in the U.S. or an IDD country.
REMINDER: There are very rare instances when title XVI recipients living outside the U.S. may
receive benefits. For instances when we consider an SSI recipient living abroad eligible
for payments see SI 00501.411 and SI 00501.415.