Can You Still Get Disability Benefits if You Move to Another Country?

Leaving the country may affect your disability benefits, particularly for SSI recipients.

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If you are planning to move outside the United States, your benefits may or may not be affected, depending on whether you receive SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance payments) or SSI (Supplemental Security Income payments) and other circumstances.

SSDI

For the most part, if you are a citizen of the United States, you are able to receive your disability benefits if you are receiving Social Security disability and the country you're relocating to is an allowed country for payment of Social Security benefits (check with your Social Security office to make sure the country you are locating to is allowed for payment receipt). Some countries that Social Security can't send payments to are Cuba, North Korea, Cambodia, Vietnam, and most former Soviet Union republics (but not Russia, Armenia, or the Baltic states). 

If you are a legal resident of this country and not a citizen, your benefits may stop after six months if you don't live in a country with a Social Security agreement with the United States. However, there are many countries you can be a citizen of and still receive SSDI. To find out if you are a citizen of a country that allows you to receive benefits, you can contact the Social Security Administration to ascertain your potential payment status should you decide to leave the United States.

Of course, you may have to return to this country for periodic disability reviews. These continuing disability reviews occur every three to seven years, depending upon your disability review diary date, which is dependent on how likely Social Security thinks it is that your condition will improve. If you do not respond to or comply with Social Security requests (this might include going to a consultative examination, a medical exam conducted to learn more about whether your condition has improved), you may have your Social Security disability benefits stopped. 

For SSDI purposes, being inside the United States includes Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and American Samoa.

SSI

If your disability is based upon Supplemental Security income, or SSI, your payments will stop once you have been outside the United States for 30 days and your payments cannot be reinstated until you have been back in the United States for 30 days. (There is one exception to this rule: Children of military personnel who receive SSI who have to leave the U.S. for their parent's overseas duty can continue to get SSI while overseas.)

For SSI purposes, being inside the United States includes the Northern Mariana Islands, but does not include the commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

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