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

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

Updated by , Attorney · UC Law San Francisco

If you're receiving disability benefits and you're planning to move outside the United States, your benefits might or might not be affected, depending on which type of disability you get:

Other circumstances can affect your ability to continue getting Social Security disability if you move to another country too. Here are the basic rules.

What Determines If You Can Get Disability Benefits When You're Abroad

Whether or not you can still get disability benefits in another country will depend on several factors, including:

  • where you're going
  • whether you're a citizen of the United States or another country
  • how long you plan to be abroad, and
  • whether you get SSDI or SSI benefits.

If you leave the United States for 30 days in a row or more, Social Security will consider you "outside the country" until you return to U.S. soil and stay for at least 30 days in a row. So, it's important to make sure Social Security has your current address and to let the agency know as soon as you're back in the United States.

Social Security Disability Payments Can't Be Sent to Some Countries

The Social Security Administration (SSA) can't send disability payments to anyone in certain countries—even to U.S. citizens. You can't get Social Security disability payments in:

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

The list of disallowed countries is subject to change depending on the global political climate and a country's policies. You can check the status of the country you're moving to by contacting your local Social Security office or by using Social Security's Payments Abroad Screening Tool.

Can You Move to Another Country If You're Disabled and Getting SSDI?

Sometimes you can move to another country and still get disability. Sometimes you can't. The rules regarding collecting SSDI benefits abroad differ depending on your citizenship status and sometimes on what country you're visiting.

But first, know that, for SSDI purposes, the United States includes the following U.S. territories:

  • Puerto Rico
  • Guam
  • the U.S. Virgin Islands
  • the Northern Mariana Islands, and
  • American Samoa.

So if you travel to one of those areas, your ability to collect SSDI benefits won't change.

SSDI Rules for U.S. Citizens Abroad

For the most part, if you're a U.S. citizen, you can continue to get SSDI benefits if you leave the country as long as both of the following are true:

  • you remain eligible for disability, and
  • Social Security is allowed to send benefits to the country you're moving to (an SSDI-allowed country).

Rules for Citizens of Certain Countries

If you're a citizen of one of the countries listed below and you qualify for SSDI benefits based on your own work record, you can receive disability payments, regardless of how long you stay outside of the United States. (And as long as you go to an SSDI-allowed country.)

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

This list changes from time to time. So, before you move, you should contact Social Security to confirm whether your country of citizenship allows you to receive SSDI benefits.

Rules for Citizens of All Other Countries

The rules for collecting SSDI benefits abroad are different if you're not a U.S. citizen and you're not a citizen of one of the countries listed above.

If you're a legal non-citizen, you can lose SSDI benefits after spending six months outside the United States unless:

  • you're on active duty in the U.S. military, or
  • you move to a country with a Social Security agreement with the United States.

Here are the countries that currently have Social Security agreements with the United States:

Australia Ireland
Austria Italy
Belgium Japan
Brazil Luxembourg
Canada Netherlands
Chile Norway
Czech Republic Poland
Denmark Portugal
Finland Slovak Republic
France Slovenia
Germany South Korea
Greece Spain
Hungary Sweden
Iceland Switzerland
Ireland United Kingdom
Italy Uruguay

If you travel to one of these countries, it doesn't matter what country you're a citizen of.

SSDI Continuing Disability Reviews

Whether you're a U.S. citizen or a legal non-citizen, if you're living abroad, you might have to return to the United States for periodic disability reviews—at least if Social Security wants you to see a doctor in person. These continuing disability reviews occur every three to seven years, depending on how likely your condition is to improve.

If you don't respond to or comply with Social Security requests (which might include going to a consultative exam with a Social Security doctor), your disability benefits could be stopped. Learn more about your rights and responsibilities in Social Security's guide to getting benefits abroad.

Can You Still Get SSI If You Go Abroad?

The rules for SSI disability benefits are different than those for SSDI benefits—that includes the rules regarding leaving the country. How long you can remain outside the United States when you're on SSI disability is different than with SSDI.

If you're receiving SSI disability benefits and you leave the United States for 30 days, Social Security will stop your payments. And your disability benefits can't be reinstated until you've been back in the United States for at least 30 days.

(There's one exception to this rule: Children of military personnel who receive SSI and who have to leave the United States for their parent's overseas duty can continue to get SSI while overseas.)

Also, for SSI purposes, the United States includes the Northern Mariana Islands but not Puerto Rico. So if you go to Puerto Rico for 30 days or more, your SSI benefits will stop.

For more information about collecting SSDI or SSI disability benefits in another country, see Nolo's Guide to Social Security Disability, by David Morton, M.D.

Updated December 14, 2022

Talk to a Disability Lawyer

Need a lawyer? Start here.

How it Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you
Boost Your Chance of Being Approved

Get the Compensation You Deserve

Our experts have helped thousands like you get cash benefits.

How It Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you