Can I Get Social Security Disability Outside the United States?

Social Security disability benefits are available to individuals who, because of a long-term illness or injury, are unable to engage in a substantial gainful activity (SGA). This typically means that the individual is unable to work at any job or in any capacity. A citizen of the United States who is otherwise eligible for these benefits could also receive them if they are living somewhere overseas. 

If you believe that you may be eligible to recover Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits, a knowledgeable Orange County social security disability attorney could assess your situation. He/she can review your life circumstances with you, determine if you meet the eligibility requirements, and pursue the benefits that you deserve.

Getting Approved for SSDI Benefits

In order for you to obtain SSDI benefits, you must first obtain approval from the SSA. In many instances, this could be an uphill battle. In order to recover SSDI benefits, you will need to demonstrate, through medical documentation, that you suffer a permanent disability that prevents you from working. Consequently, a healthcare provider will need to be on board in your case. The healthcare provider must be able to state in writing,  and to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, that your long-term illness or injury prevents you from working in any capacity.

In many instances, insurance companies deny disability claims because of insufficient medical documentation. When that happens, you will have the opportunity to file at least one administrative appeal. If you do not succeed in getting benefits during the administrative process, you have the option of filing a claim in federal court and pursuing your disability benefits case there. A federal judge will then decide the outcome. A knowledgeable California SSDI benefits attorney could assist you with filing a claim or appealing an adverse outcome.

Residence Outside the United States

For purposes of SSDI benefits, the SSA considers a person to reside outside the United States – or any of its protectorates, such as Guam and Puerto Rico – when the absence extends for longer than 30 days. If the absence is less than 30 days, the SSA considers it to be a ‘visit,’ rather than ‘permanent residence.’ If you are staying in a country for more than 30 days, you must report the change in your status to the SSA. Specifically, you have to submit the proper change of address documentation.

In most instances, if you are eligible to receive SSDI benefits while residing in the United States, you will be eligible to receive those benefits while residing outside the country. However, it is important to keep in mind that there are certain countries that the Social Security administration (SSA) cannot send checks to via mail. Moreover, only the SSD-eligible individual who has been designated to receive the benefits can process the payment check.

Some exceptions also exist. For example, a person is not eligible to receive SSDI payments while they reside in Cuba or North Korea, under any circumstances. A full list of these countries is available on the SSA website. An experienced OC disability attorney can review your circumstances with you and determine your eligibility for receiving SSDI benefits – even when residing outside the U.S.