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Collecting Social Security Disability Abroad

traveler in airport with backpack and face mask

Life is a series of twists and turns, and one of those changes may include living outside of the United States for an extended period of time or permanently. If you are receiving disability benefits through Social Security, one of the last things you want to worry about is whether they will be terminated while you live abroad.

Whether your benefits will be impacted depends on which kind of benefits you receive. If you are a Supplemental Security Income beneficiary, you can only continue to collect those benefits if you live in one of the fifty United States, the District of Columbia, or the Northern Mariana Islands.

If you are receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), you can continue to receive benefits even if you live abroad, with a couple of exceptions. There are certain countries that SSA cannot send money to, but you can collect your benefits once you leave that country, and these include Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

You cannot receive any benefits payments if you reside in North Korea or Cuba; if you are a United States citizen living in one of these two countries, you can obtain your benefits once you leave, but if you are not a United States citizen living there, you cannot receive payments for the months you lived there.

SSA considers residence abroad any stay outside of the United States that lasts longer than thirty days. If you are going to live outside the United States for more than thirty days, you must notify SSA of your change in residency status, including submitting change of address information. You must also notify SSA of any changes to your disabling condition, work status, income, marital status, or parental status. If you are not a United States citizen, SSA will stop your payments once you’ve remained outside of the United States for six full months and will not reinstate them until you have returned to the United States and remained in residence there for a full calendar month.

While you live abroad, you will receive periodic questionnaires from SSA. If you fail to complete them or return them within the specified time period, SSA can stop your benefits. You can report any necessary changes to SSA by phone, mail, or in-person.