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Excerpted from "Social Security Handbook". See the up-to-date, official Social Security Handbook at


123. Checks

123.1 What is your time limit for cashing Social Security checks?

Checks are issued with the words "VOID AFTER ONE YEAR" printed across the face of the check. If you have a check that you have not cashed past the one-year time limit, you will not be able to cash it. Contact a Social Security office to have the check reissued.

123.2 How are checks sent to beneficiaries living outside of the U.S.?

If you live outside the U.S., your check is mailed either from the U.S. Treasury Department or from a U.S. diplomatic or consular office in the country where you are living. In a few countries, special arrangements are made for check delivery. Because of the distance and additional handling involved, your checks are generally delivered somewhat later than if you were living in the U.S.

123.3 What should you do if you do not receive your check?

If you are living in the U.S. and you do not receive your check within three business days after it is usually mailed, contact the Social Security office right away. Also call the Social Security office if your check has been stolen, lost, destroyed, or forged. Be prepared to provide the Social Security office with the following information:

  1. The claim number (see §133) on which the benefit is being paid;

  2. The period of payment covered by the missing check (or checks); and

  3. The name and address which should be shown on the check.

123.4 How do you report a change of address?

If your address changes, report the change to Social Security right away. You can make your report by telephone, in writing, in person or on the SSA web-site. Provide your Social Security claim number and your old address, including the ZIP code, so that any check already printed can be found and sent to your new address. Also, notify the post office of your change of address to ensure prompt delivery of your check.

Note: If there is any doubt as to the authenticity of a telephone report, the Social Security office requests written confirmation from you.

Last Revised: Apr. 18, 2006

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