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Can You Take it With You? What Happens to Disability Benefits if You Leave the Country?

If you have applied to the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits (“SSDI”) or Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) you know that it’s a long, difficult process.

You probably also know that in life, things don’t always stay the same.  So what happens to your SSDI or SSI benefits if your life situation changes and you move out of the country?

Let’s see.

Which Program Are You Receiving Benefits From?

Before you can determine what may happen to your benefits if you leave the country, it is important to know which disability benefits program you are on: SSDI or SSI. Because of the similarity in the abbreviated names for these programs, people often get them confused. While both programs provide disability benefits, they are very different programs.  Each one has its own rules and requirements and is governed by specific policies and regulations generated by the SSA. So it is important to know which type of benefits you are receiving.

Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) provides financial support for the disabled, the elderly and those with little to no income. SSI provides those who qualify with supplemental income to pay their bills and/or living expenses. This program focuses on the amount of income a person or family has. One does not need to have a work history in order to qualify for SSI.

The SSDI program, on the other hand, requires a claimant to have worked in order to qualify for disability benefits.  To qualify for SSDI, you must have worked for up to 15 years at a job that paid into the federal social security tax system (the Federal Insurance Contributions Act or “FICA”).

Once you know which disability benefits program you are receiving, you can then determine what may happen to your benefits if you move out of the United States.

SSI Travel Restrictions

If you are receiving SSI and you move out of the country, your benefits will stop if you remain outside of the United States for 30 days.

It is important to understand that if you remain outside of the United States for 30 days and the SSA stops your benefit payments, there is a 30-day waiting period before your benefits can be reinstated should you move back to the United States.

SSDI Travel Restrictions

If you are receiving SSDI and you move out of the country, there is a good chance that your payments will continue.

This is because the United States maintains a Social Security agreement with over 50 countries. These agreements allow United States citizens who move to one of these countries to continue to receive their SSDI benefits —that is, as long as they remain eligible for benefits. If you are no longer eligible to receive SSDI, then regardless of where you live your payments will stop. But the Social Security Agreement that the U.S. has with these 50 foreign nations allows U.S. citizens living abroad to continue receiving their SSDI benefits even if they become a citizen of that country.

Helping You Get The Benefits You Deserve.   

At the Day Law Group, we help those suffering from disabilities get the benefits they deserve. We offer FREE consultations and we don’t get paid unless you win your case.  We have offices in Baton Rouge, and we serve Baker, Denham, Gonzales, Port Allen, Prairieville, New Orleans, and Zachary. So call  (225) 465-1232 or email us here.


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