Social Security

Frequently Asked Questions

We encourage you to file online for Social Security benefits or Medicare at www.socialsecurity.gov.

Alternatively, you may contact our office by telephone (351) 21 770 3300 or, by email – fbu.lisbon@ssa.gov.

If you are moving from the U.S. you will ALSO need to provide a completed Form SSA-21 (PDF 116KB), Supplement To Claim Of Person Outside The United States. All questions must be answered and legible.

You can report your new address by contacting us via telephone (351) 21 770 3300 or by email – fbu.lisbon@ssa.gov.

Note: Until you actually apply for benefit payments, we do not keep your current address on record at the Social Security Administration. When we mail your automatic Social Security Statement to you, we use the address provided to us by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Your address will be automatically updated when you file your next U.S. Tax Return or you can correct the address that IRS has on file by completing the Form 8822 (PDF 80 KB) and mailing it to IRS.

When contacting the Lisbon Federal Benefits Unit to report death of a beneficiary, please provide the following information:

  • Full Name of deceased beneficiary
  • Social Security Number (SSN)
  • Date and Place of Death.

Reporters Information:

  • Full Name of reporter
  • Relationship to deceased
  • Mailing Address
  • Telephone or mobile number

Additional Information:

The information you provide is used solely by the Federal Benefits Unit of the U.S. Embassy Lisbon. In order to process certain types of requests, we may have to ask for your Social Security Number (SSN) or the last 4-digits thereof, your date of birth, or your banking information. You may decline to provide such information, but that could inhibit our ability to answer your questions or assist you with your request. Any information provided on our web form is not retained and is used only in order to process your current request or answer your current questions. The Lisbon FBU Office works in accordance with SSA procedures as well as the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.) and the Privacy Act of 1974. You can read our full privacy statement at http://www.socialsecurity.gov.

When reporting a change of Direct Deposit or to start a Direct Deposit you will need to contact the Lisbon Federal Benefits Unit (see below) and provide as much of the following information as possible:

  1. Your first name or names
  2. Your surname (family name)
  3. If applicable, your new mailing address (not an address in the U.S.)
  4. Any telephone number(s) that we may use to reach you during business hours:
  5. Your email address
  6. Last 4 digits of your Social Security number (SSN)
  7. Name and address of your bank
  8. Bank Routing Number (RTN) and Bank Account Number (DAN) or, if bank in Portugal, “IBAN”
  9. Specify type of account (checking or savings)
  10. Any other information which you feel would be helpful

The information you provide is used solely by the Federal Benefits Unit of the U.S. Embassy Lisbon and not retained. You may contact our office by telephone (351) 21 770 3300 or by email fbu.lisbon@ssa.gov.

Each year some beneficiaries are required to complete the Form SSA-7161 or SSA-7162. The form is sent with a return envelope to the SSA facility in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. The purpose of the form is to ensure SSA has the correct address and phone number on file and that circumstances that may affect payment have been reported.

The forms are mailed in May each year. A follow up notice is sent in October and December if the completed questionnaire has not been received. Failure to provide the required completed questionnaire will result in suspension of benefits effective the payment due on February 3.

Important Information for February 3 Benefit Payments

If your Social Security benefit is not in your bank account on February 3rd, or your check is not received by February 8th, your benefit may be suspended for failure to complete and return the Foreign Enforcement Questionnaire form SSA-7162 or SSA-7161.

For assistance, please call our office via telephone (351) 21 770 3300 or, email us on fbu.lisbon@ssa.gov for assistance in completing the form, and resumption of your benefits.


Contact Us

A. The best way to contact the Lisbon Federal Benefits Unit is by phone or email – fbu.lisbon@ssa.gov

B. For queries which require more narrative you can write to us at the following address:

American Embassy
Federal Benefits Unit
Apartado 43033
1601-301 Lisboa

C. If necessary, you can visit the Lisbon Federal Benefits Unit, Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and from 1:30 p.m. to 4.00 p.m. except on American or Portuguese holidays.

D. You can call the Lisbon Federal Benefits Unit Monday through Wednesday, between the hours of 8:00a.m. and 12:00 p.m. via telephone:

Callers within Portugal
Please call 21 727 3300

International callers
Please call +351 21 727 3300

To ensure secure delivery and return, all original documents should be mailed to the Federal Benefits Unit via registered mail. You should retain the tracking numbers in the event a problem occurs. The Lisbon Federal Benefits Unit mailing address is as follows:

American Embassy
Federal Benefits Unit
Apartado 43033
1601-301 Lisboa


Social Security Numbers (SSN)

To apply for a Social Security number for a child under age 12 the following steps are required:

Complete an Application for a Social Security Card, Form SS-5-FS (PDF 132 KB) – all questions must be answered and legible.

Provide the following original documents – photocopies are not acceptable. The completed application and documents should be mailed to us.

  1. Proof of the child’s birth
    • Original U.S. birth certificate, or Original Consular Report of Birth Abroad
    • If the child was born in the U.S., Form SSA- L706 must also be completed, signed and submitted along with the application and other documentation. This allows the Social Security Administration to verify the birth record with the custodian of the record.
    • If the child is a U.S. Resident, original foreign birth certificate.
  2. Proof of the child’s U.S. Citizenship or U.S. Resident status
    • Original U.S. birth certificate, or
    • Original Consular Report of Birth Abroad, or
    • If the child is a U.S. Resident, Permanent Resident Card
  3. Proof of the child’s identity
    • Original U.S. Passport, must be current and signed, or
    • Original Portuguese Passport or ID card, must be current
    • If the child is a U.S. Resident, Permanent Resident Card
  4. Proof of the identity of the parent signing the application
    • Original U.S. Passport, must be current and signed
    • Original Portuguese Passport or ID card, must be current

Anyone age of 12 or over must present themselves in person at a U.S. Embassy, Consulate, Consular Agency or designated U.S. Military installation.

You must also complete an Application for a Social Security Card, Form SS-5-FS (PDF 132 KB) – all questions must be answered and legible.

You must also provide the following original documents – photocopies are not acceptable.

  1. Proof of birth
    • Original U.S. birth certificate, Original Consular Report of Birth Abroad, or Original birth certificate other than the documents mentioned above.
    • If you or the child was born in the U.S. you must also submit proof that you or the child has resided outside of the U.S. for a significant period of time to explain why a Social Security number has not been issued in the past (see list of documentation).
    • If you or the child was born in the U.S., Form SSA- L706 (PDF 79 KB) must also be completed, signed and submitted along with the application and other documentation. This allows the Social Security Administration to verify the birth record with the custodian of the record.
  2. Proof of U.S. Citizenship or U.S. Resident status
    • Original US birth certificate
    • Original Consular Report of Birth Abroad
    • Original Naturalization or Citizenship Certificate
    •  Original Permanent Resident Card
  3. Proof of identity
    • Original U.S. Passport, must be current and signed
    • Original Portuguese Passport or ID card, must be current
    • Original Permanent Resident Card
  4. Proof of the identity of the parent signing the application, if applicable- a parent can sign the form for a child up to age 18.
    • Original U.S. Passport, must be current and signed
    • Original Portuguese Passport or ID card, must be current

If you have obtained a U.S. Visa that allows you to work in the U.S. you must apply for a Social Security Card after you enter the U.S. You may apply at the nearest Social Security Office. You can obtain the address of the nearest Social Security Office at http://socialsecurity.gov under the heading “Find A Social Security Office“. You will need to complete an Application for a Social Security Card, Form SS-5-FS (PDF 132 KB) and provide the original documents listed above.

You should apply for a replacement card even if you cannot recall your Social Security Number. Complete an Application for a Social Security Card, Form SS-5-FS – all questions must be answered and legible.

Provide an original identity document – a photocopy is not acceptable. The completed application and identity document should be mailed to us.

Proof of Identity

  • Original U.S Passport, must be current and signed
  • Original Permanent Resident Alien card, must be current
  • Original U.S. state driver’s license, must be current
  • Original Portuguese Passport or ID card, but must be accompanied by proof of U.S. citizenship such as a Naturalization certificate or U.S. birth certificate If the replacement card is for a child, we need to see proof of identity for both the child and the parent who signs the form.

If you do not know the Social Security Number and need it urgently, e.g. for a new U.S. Passport application, you should submit a Request for Verification with the replacement card application and we will mail a verification of the number within 3 business days.

If you only want a verification of the number, and do not want a replacement card, complete the Request for Verification of a Social Security Number (download a PDF of SSN Verification and submit proof of identity as listed above.

If the name on your identity document differs from the name on your last Social Security Number record, see item 6 below for instructions on how to change the name on your record.

If you are not a U.S. citizen or legal Permanent Resident Alien, see item 5 below for instructions.

Effective June 24, 2013, the Social Security Administration updated the regulations concerning Social Security Number verifications. A replacement Social Security Number card, and/or a Verification printout will not be issued to non-U.S. citizens or residents who have no current need for a Social Security Number.

If you are not a U.S. citizen or legal Permanent Resident Alien (“Green Card” holder) and you need to verify the details shown on your Social Security Number record, you must apply directly to the Social Security Administration for a printout of your Social Security Number record (known as a Numident). These applications can take up to 30 days or more to process and are processed on a first come basis regardless of the mailing method used.

Send a written request to verify the details held in your Numident, with the following information: your name, date of birth, parents’ names, the citizenship or legal resident status you held when your Social Security Number was assigned, and the date your citizenship or legal resident status changed. Send your request to:

Social Security Administration
OEO DERO (FOIA Workgroup)
PO Box 33022
Baltimore MD 21290-3022

If you wish to use Express Mail/Courier, send your request to:

Social Security Administration
OEO DERO (FOIA Workgroup)
300 N. Greene Street
Baltimore MD 21290-0300

To change your name on your Social Security records the following steps are required;

  1. Complete an Application for a Social Security Card, Form SS-5-FS (PDF 132 KB) – all questions must be answered and legible.
  2. Provide the following original documents – photocopies are not acceptable. The completed application and documents should be mailed to us (see: How do I contact the Lisbon Federal Benefits Unit?)
    • Proof of the name change
      • Original marriage or divorce decree If the marriage or divorce certificate is over 2 years old or does not contain biographical data such as a date of birth or age, you must also submit proof of identity in your OLD name. If you have no identification in your old name, you must write a statement as to why you do not have such proof of identity and submit proof of identity in your NEW name.
    • Proof of identity in Old Name, as required
      • Original current or expired U.S. or Portuguese Passport, must be signed
      • Original driving license
      • Original current or expired U.S. military identification
    • Proof of identity in New Name, as required
      • Original current U.S. or Portuguese Passport, must be signed
      • Original driving license
      • Original current U.S. military identification