Can I continue to receive Social Security Disability income while living in Israel with dual citizenship?

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I am a United States citizen planning to move to Israel and obtain Israeli citizenship (where I would be holding dual U.S./Israeli citizenship) I have a permanent disability and am receiving Social Security Disability Income. In Israel, I would be eligible to receive Disability Income from the Israeli government as a person with disabilities. Would I be able to continue to receive SSDI from the U.S.?

Expert Answer

If you are a U.S. citizen, you can receive Social Security benefits of any kind even though you live outside the U.S. In Israel, you can even have your Social Security benefits check direct deposited in your bank account there. You can arrange this with a local Social Security office in the U.S., or in Israel at the U.S. embassy or one of its consulates.

Social Security disability benefits are little more complicated than retirement or survivors benefits, however. That's because your eligibility for disability benefits depends on your inability to work, which Social Security measures not only by your physical condition but also by whether or not you have any actual earnings. If your physical condition improves, or you find work that you can do and begin to earn more than Social Security allows, you may lose your Social Security disability benefits. If you live in the U.S., Social Security does a periodic review of your physical condition. Also, you must report any earnings you have (which Social Security can also check through the records of any taxes paid on your behalf by an employer).

If you live outside the country, Social Security will continue to monitor your condition and whether you are earning income from current work. Social Security will periodically send you a questionnaire to determine whether you're still eligible for disability benefits. This will include questions about your condition and your current earnings. You also have a duty to promptly report to Social Security any changes in your condition or earnings you have from current work, regardless of whether you have recently received a questionnaire. If you fail to report an improvement in your physical condition or earnings, you could lose your benefits.

If you do return to work once you are in Israel, you can keep receiving your disability benefits for up to nine months in what is called a "trial work period." If you keep working after nine months, you'll get three more months of disability benefits and then they'll stop. If at any time during that nine-month trial period you stop working again, your benefits will continue.

To learn more about receiving Social Security benefits while living outside the country, see the page Your Payments While You Are Outside the United States on the official Social Security Administration Web site.