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Can I keep my benefits if I move out of the United States?

  • By:The Law Center for Social Security Rights
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Generally speaking,  if you receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits under your own work record, then you are able to receive your benefits for at least six months after moving outside the U.S., unless you move to a prohibited nation.  If you receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits and leave the U.S., your benefits will stop after 30-days and will not be reinstated until you return to the United States. The complete list for the allowed and prohibited countries can be found in this SSA publication:  https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10137.pdf. There also are a number of other factors that can impact your benefits which is why you should read this publication.

Allowed Nations – The U.S. has agreements with various countries for people who hold dual citizenship. If you are a citizen of any of the following countries and currently receive SSDI payments, those payments will continue as long as you are eligible, no matter how long you spend outside of the U.S. These countries include Belgium, Canada, Chile, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Ireland, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and United Kingdom.

Prohibited Nations – There are several countries to which the SSA does not send benefit payments, even if you qualify for disability. These countries include: Belarus, Cambodia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, North Korea, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Vietnam. If you live in one of these countries, you may apply for an exception, which would require that you go to the US Embassy in that country.

Payments While Living in U.S. “Protectorates” – Although Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa are technically located outside the U.S., you will receive disability payments from SSDI and/or SSI while living in any of these locations.

There are some exceptions to these rules. If you meet any of the following criteria, you will still receive your typical monthly benefits despite non-citizenship: (1)You are actively serving in the U.S. Navy or military; (2)You were eligible for monthly benefits for disability in December 1956 or (3) You are receiving benefits as a survivor of someone who died in service of the U.S. military or as a result of service-related disability.

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