Can I Keep Disability Benefits While Living in Another Country?
Social Security disability recipients may continue to collect their benefits, even while living overseas. Those with long-term or permanent disabling medical conditions may receive financial assistance through the Social Security Administration’s Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income programs. While unable to work, disability benefit recipients may wish to live or travel outside the U.S.; however, they may worry what a change in their residence or extended travel may mean for their much-needed benefits.
To continue receiving disability benefits while living or traveling overseas, recipients must meet certain eligibility requirements. The requirements for receiving SSDI benefits while outside the U.S. include the following:
- Recipients must have U.S. citizenship
- Recipients must live in an approved country
- Recipients must not intend to stay out of the country for more than six months
- Recipients must qualify for benefits under their work records
When SSI benefit recipients move or travel outside the U.S., their benefits typically end after 30 days. However, they may have their benefits reinstated upon returning to the country for one full calendar month.
With few exceptions, the SSA cannot issue payments to disability benefit recipients living in certain countries. In addition to Cuba and North Korea, the U.S. Department of the Treasury does not send payments to recipients living or traveling in the following: Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine or Uzbekistan. While in these restricted countries, recipients’ benefits get withheld. Upon their return to the U.S. or an approved country, they may receive all their withheld payments.
To maintain their disability benefits, recipients residing abroad must complete and return the questionnaire sent to them by Social Security. In order to confirm people’s benefits eligibility while living overseas, the SSA sends questionnaires every year or two years. Recipients may have to provide information about their employment, income and medical conditions in order to continue their eligibility for benefits. Failing to respond to the questionnaire, or providing false answers, may result in a termination of benefits and, in some cases, may also have criminal penalties.
In addition to responding to the SSA’s questionnaires, benefit recipients must also report any changes to their statuses while living overseas. The types of changes people must report include address changes, marriages, divorces or annulments, changes in parental circumstances, improvement of their conditions or returns to work.