Receiving Social Security Benefits While Outside the U.S.

December 20, 2019
Dayes Law Firm

For recipients of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, what happens to payments if you go outside of the U.S? Many beneficiaries worry that international travel may affect their ability to continue obtaining benefits. The answer will depend on a number of factors, including the length of stay and type of disability program enrolled in.

The Phoenix Social Security Disability attorneys at our firm discuss how disability payments are impacted while abroad. Learn what options may be available to you during a free, no-obligation legal consultation.

Factors That Determine Eligibility

If you receive SSDI benefits and wish to travel or live outside of the U.S., you may be able to continue receiving disability payments. The Social Security Administration (SSA) typically continues to issue payments to beneficiaries while abroad if the following conditions are met:

  • You are a citizen of the U.S.
  • You qualify for disability benefits under your own work record
  • You reside in an approved country
  • You intend to stay in an approved country for a period of six months or less

If you intend to stay out of the U.S. for more than six months, you may still be eligible to receive disability benefits. However, you must complete and submit paperwork to the SSA, and you may be asked to return to the U.S. for an in-person review of your benefits eligibility.

For recipients of SSI benefits, payments typically end if a beneficiary leaves the U.S. Benefits stop after 30 days and are unable to be reinstated until the beneficiary returns to the country.

Why Citizenship is So Important

U.S. citizens are typically able to continue to receive disability payments when outside of the country, as long as you are visiting or living in an approved country where benefits are able to be sent.

Different countries have different Social Security agreements with the U.S., which affect how long a beneficiary is able to receive benefits while outside the country. These agreements may add requirements for continued payments of survivors’ benefits or other benefits.

If you receive SSDI benefits and are not a citizen of the U.S., benefits payments do not continue in the same manner as they do for U.S. citizens if you choose to go abroad. Payments will end once you have lived outside of the country for a consecutive six months.

Social Security Payment Restrictions

The U.S. Department of the Treasury does not make disability payments to those who reside in certain countries.

If you are a U.S. citizen and reside in North Korea or Cuba, your payments will be withheld until you return to a country where payments are able to be sent. Once in an approved country, you will be given all withheld benefits. Non-U.S.citizens cannot receive disability payments for any time living in North Korea or Cuba, even if you go to an approved country and satisfy all the requirements.

Generally, payments cannot be sent to recipients in the following countries:

  • Azerbaijan
  • Belarus
  • Kazakhstan
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Moldova
  • Tajikistan
  • Turkmenistan
  • Ukraine
  • Uzbekistan

You may be able to qualify for an exception if you are eligible and agree to restricted payment conditions. If you are ineligible for restricted payment conditions, benefits payments are withheld until you go to an approved country.

How to Maintain Your Disability Benefits

To maintain your disability payments while outside of the U.S., you must complete the questionnaire sent to you by the SSA to determine ongoing eligibility for benefits. These are sent every year for those who are 90 years of age or older; have a representative payee; or do not receive benefits as a spouse, widow, disabled widow, parent or special age 72 payments.

Questionnaires are sent every two years for those who do receive benefits as a spouse, widow, disabled widow, parent, or special age 72 benefits; or live in select countries and do not meet the requirements for yearly questionnaires.

Your questionnaire must be completed, signed, dated, and returned to the SSA as soon as possible. If you fail to return your questionnaire, benefits will end. Failing to report or falsifying information may result in fines or imprisonment.

Any changes in your status must also be reported to the SSA immediately, or else you risk losing some of your benefits.

Call Dayes Law Firm for Help

For assistance with your Social Security Disability claim, contact Dayes Law Firm. Our disability attorneys are committed to helping our clients secure the benefits they are eligible for.

Schedule a free consultation to get started. We charge no upfront fees, and you only pay us if we successfully help you recover benefits.

Call 1-800-503-2000 or complete our Free Case Review form today.