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're receiving disability benefits and you're 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 SSDI purposes, being inside the United States includes Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and American Samoa. If you are outside the United States for at least 30 days in a row, you are considered outside the country until you return and stay in the United States for at least 30 days in a row.

Rules for Citizens. For the most part, if you're 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:

  • Azerbaijan
  • Belarus
  • Cuba
  • Kazakhstan
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Moldova
  • North Korea
  • Tajikistan
  • Turkmenistan
  • Ukraine
  • Uzbekistan

Rules for Non-Citizens. If you are a legal resident of the United States and not a citizen, your benefits will stop after six months if you don't move to a country with a Social Security agreement with the United States, unless you're in the active military service of the United States. But there are many countries you can be a citizen of and still receive SSDI, regardless of where you move--see the list below.

Citizens of These Countries Can Continue to Receive SSDI Benefits

Albania
Antigua and Barbuda
Argentina
Austria
Bahamas
Barbados
Belgium
Belize
Bolivia
Bosnia-Herzegovina
Brazil
Brazil
Bulgaria
Burkina Faso Colombia
Canada
Chile
Costa Rica
Côte d'Ivoire
Croatia
Cyprus
Czech Republic
Denmark
Dominica
Dominican Republic
Ecuador
El Salvador
Finland
France
Gabon Grenada
Germany
Greece
Guatemala
Guyana
Hungary
Iceland
Ireland
Israel
Italy
Jamaica
Japan
Jordan
Korea (South)
Latvia
Liechtenstein
Lithuania
Luxembourg
Malta
Marshall Islands
Mexico
Micronesia
Monaco
Montenegro
Netherlands
North Macedonia Nicaragua
Norway
Palau
Panama
Peru
Philippines
Poland
Portugal
Samoa
San Marino
Serbia
Slovak Republic
Slovenia
Spain
St. Kitts and Nevis
St. Lucia
St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Sweden
Switzerland
Trinidad-Tobago
Turkey
United Kingdom
Uruguay
Venezuela

This list does change from time to time, so, before you move, you should confirm whether you're a citizen of a country that allows you to receive benefits. Contact the Social Security Administration to ascertain your potential payment status when you leave the United States.

Continuing Disability Reviews. Of course, you might have to return to this country for periodic disability reviews--if Social Security wants you to see a doctor in person. 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 (which 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.

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 can't be reinstated until you've been back in the United States for at least 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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