Can You Receive Social Security Disability While Overseas?

What happens when SSDI recipients live overseas? Do people still receive Social Security Disability payments while abroad? What happens to disability payments when U.S. citizens or non-citizens leave the United States?

Our Arizona SSDI lawyers discuss Social Security Disability payments while overseas.

Can You Receive Social Security Disability While Overseas?

Generally, United States citizens continue to receive Social Security Disability while overseas if they meet other eligibility criteria and live in a place where payments can be sent. Non-citizens often continue to receive SSDI payments, depending on their citizenship, country of residency, and period of time outside the United States.

United States Citizens

Generally, if you are a United States citizen, you may continue to receive Social Security Disability benefits while overseas.

You must remain eligible to receive benefits based on qualification standards. In addition, you must live in a country where Social Security can make payments.

Non-United States Citizens

As a non-citizen, whether you may continue to receive Social Security Disability payments while outside of the United States depends on how long you are gone, your country of citizenship, and whether you reside in a country where payments can be made.

  • SSDI payments for non-U.S. citizens may stop after the person has been outside the United States for six months.
  • Absence is not counted until the person has been away from the United States for 30 days.
  • Once a person is gone for 30 days or more, they may continue their benefits by returning for 30 or more consecutive days in a six-month period.
  • If benefits have stopped, the person must return to the United States for a month for benefits to recommence. It’s a full calendar month, so the person must be there by midnight on the first day of the month for that month to count.
  • Exceptions apply for citizens and residents of certain countries.

You may continue to receive benefits if you claim them on your own earnings records and if you are a citizen of certain counties. Residents of recognized countries may continue to receive payments based on specific agreements with the United States. If you receive benefits as a dependent or survivor, you must meet additional requirements.

Since a person is not considered absent from the United States until they have been gone for 30 consecutive days, a person could continue to qualify by returning to the United States every 30 days. They should keep records to prove their presence, like Department of Homeland Security admission records.

For a non-U.S. citizen to receive SSDI payments while abroad, they must continue to meet eligibility requirements. They must live in a country where payments can be made.

U.S. Citizens and Non-Citizens Are Treated Differently

When it comes to the payment of SSDI benefits while abroad, United States citizens and non-citizens are treated differently. Both groups may continue to receive benefits. For United States citizens, there are fewer restrictions and disqualifiers. However, many citizens and non-citizens receive benefits while outside the country.

Country Restrictions

Social Security cannot send payments to Cuba or North Korea. You will forfeit your payments while you are in these countries, even if you otherwise qualify.

Additionally, Social Security can’t send payments to the following countries:

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

There are some exceptions. Unless you qualify for an exception and agree to restrictions, your payments are withheld while you are in these countries. If you cannot receive payments because of the country that you are in, you may receive them after you move to a place where payments can be made. It’s important to keep your address up to date with Social Security.

What about U.S. territories?

United States territories are considered a part of the United States for the purposes of determining SSDI payments while abroad. If you are in Washington DC, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, or American Samoa, your benefits should not be affected.

Do you have to report your change of address or work outside the United States to SSDI?

Yes. You must report the following to SSDI:

  • Change of address
  • Work outside the United States
  • Changes in your ability to work
  • Marriage, divorce, or annulment
  • Deportation, removal to or from the United States

If you work abroad, you must report your work to SSDI. Self-employment counts as employment. Failing to update your information may result in a fine or termination of benefits.

Social Security benefits stop if you are deported from the United States. If your dependents are U.S. citizens, they may continue to receive benefits. If they are outside of the United States, their benefits may end.

What about lost or stolen checks?

An SSDI payment that is lost or stolen may be replaced. If a payment has not arrived after a reasonable period of time, contact the Social Security Administration to report the missing check and request a replacement. Social Security administrators warn that replacement times may be longer for payments to other countries.

Can you get SSDI payments abroad by electronic deposit?

Yes. You may have your payments deposited directly to a U.S. financial institution even if you live abroad. In addition, you can receive your benefits by direct deposit to a financial institution that has a direct deposit agreement with the United States.

Talk to an SSDI Lawyer

The Pekas Smith Disability Lawyers help people receive the SSDI benefits that they deserve. We understand complex circumstances that may be present, including receiving disability benefits if you travel abroad.

We invite you to talk to us about your situation. Learn if you can receive SSDI and how our law firm may assist you. Call or message us to discuss your case.

Resources for SSDI while abroad

Your Payments While You Are Outside the United States – Social Security Administration

Payments Abroad Screening Tool – Determining eligibility for international payments

Refugees and Stateless Persons – Information for benefits for persons who are refugees or stateless

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