Social Security disability benefits are only available to U.S. citizens, but sometimes claimants are naturalized citizens who wish to return to their homeland after being found disabled.
Even some disabled Americans choose to live abroad after their disability applications are approved.
Actually receiving monthly benefits gets more complicated in this situation, but the good news is that generally speaking, you can continue to receive Social Security Disability Insurance benefits while living outside of the U.S.
The Social Security Administration considers any stay outside of the country lasting more than 30 days to be a change in residence that requires notifying the administration of a change of address.
In the majority of cases, SSA will mail checks to you in your new country of residence or direct deposit monthly payments into an account there. There are some exceptions, however. Social Security keeps a running list of eligible countries on its website.
Even in cases where you cannot directly receive payment in another country, there are exceptions that may allow you to pick up your monthly disability checks at a U.S. consulate or embassy.
Disability payments will never be sent to North Korea or Cuba, however. There are no exceptions to this rule.
There are two other issues to keep in mind when living abroad while disabled.
First, these rules only apply to the disability insurance program. Individuals receiving funds from the need-based supplemental security income program will have their payments cut off if they move overseas.
Second, if you choose to live abroad, SSA can still call you back to the U.S. for an examination to determine ongoing disability.
If this happens, it’s up to you to make the arrangements to come back to the United States. Failure to do so can result in the termination of disability benefits.