Disability Benefits: Can You Travel Abroad?

can individuals collecting disability travel abroad

Individuals collecting disability benefits may be able to travel abroad, but this depends on several factors, including the type of benefit, the duration of their trip, their destination, and their citizenship. In the US, for instance, individuals receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) can generally continue to receive benefits while travelling or living abroad, provided they complete the necessary paperwork and follow the Social Security Administration (SSA) guidelines. However, those receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) may not be eligible for benefits while outside the US for more than 30 days. Similar conditions apply in the UK, where individuals can claim certain benefits for up to 13 weeks abroad, but this depends on the specific benefit and their destination.

Characteristics Values
Can individuals collecting disability travel abroad? Yes, but it depends on the type of disability benefits and the country visited.
Types of disability benefits Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Attendance Allowance, Disability Living Allowance (DLA), Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Carer's Allowance
Rules for receiving disability benefits abroad SSDI is based on work credits and individuals can usually continue receiving it abroad. SSI is means-tested and individuals cannot receive it while living abroad.
Country restrictions The SSA cannot send payments to Cuba, North Korea, and some other countries.
Time spent abroad Individuals can usually receive disability benefits for temporary trips abroad (up to 13 weeks or 26 weeks for medical treatment in the UK; 30 days in the US). For longer stays, individuals may need to complete additional paperwork and follow specific instructions.
Notification requirements In the US, individuals must notify the SSA before travelling abroad for an extended period to avoid fines and loss of benefits.
Service animals Research the rules and requirements for travelling with a service animal to the destination country.
Assistive devices and equipment Research and plan for any assistive devices and equipment needed during travel, including wheelchairs, portable machines, batteries, respirators, and oxygen.
Health and medication Carry necessary medication and ensure it is properly documented and packed. Research health services and facilities at the destination.
Rights and assistance Individuals with disabilities have specific rights and can receive assistance during travel, including at airports and on flights from the UK or EU.


Individuals collecting disability may be able to travel abroad for up to 30 days without losing benefits

For individuals collecting disability benefits, the ability to travel abroad will depend on several factors, including the type of benefit, the duration of the trip, and the destination country. Here are some important considerations for individuals collecting disability who plan to travel abroad:

Understanding Disability Benefits:

Firstly, it is essential to understand the type of disability benefits being received. In the United States, the two main types of disability benefits are Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSDI is based on an individual's work credits and their own work record, while SSI is a means-tested program that helps those with limited income and resources. The rules for receiving these benefits while abroad differ.

Travelling for Less than 30 Days:

If an individual is collecting disability and plans to travel abroad for less than 30 days, they may be able to continue receiving their benefits without any interruptions. This applies to both SSDI and SSI recipients. However, it is important to notify the Social Security Administration (SSA) before travelling to ensure there are no disruptions to benefit payments.

Travelling for More than 30 Days:

For trips abroad lasting more than 30 days, the rules differ for SSDI and SSI recipients. SSDI recipients may be able to continue receiving their benefits if they complete the necessary paperwork and follow SSA instructions. They must also ensure they are visiting or moving to an approved country that has an agreement with the United States for continuing disability payments. On the other hand, SSI recipients will have their benefits stopped if they are outside the United States or its territories for more than 30 days. SSI is not payable while living abroad.

Planning and Research:

Regardless of the type of disability benefit, individuals planning to travel abroad should carefully plan and research their trip. This includes researching accessibility standards and facilities in the destination country, as they may differ from those in the UK or the US. It is also essential to consult with travel providers, airlines, and hotels to ensure that any necessary accommodations or assistance can be provided. Additionally, comprehensive travel insurance is highly recommended.

Health and Medication:

Individuals with disabilities should also consider their health and medication needs when travelling abroad. Carrying a "travelling letter" from a doctor that describes their disability, any special requirements, and necessary medications can be helpful. It is also important to research the regulations around travelling with medication, as some countries have strict drug controls or prohibit certain medications.

In summary, individuals collecting disability benefits may be able to travel abroad for up to 30 days without losing their benefits, depending on the type of benefit and the destination country. For longer trips, SSDI recipients may be able to continue receiving benefits with proper paperwork, while SSI benefits will be interrupted. Thorough planning and research are crucial to ensure a smooth travel experience and access to necessary accommodations and assistance.


If travelling abroad for more than 30 days, individuals may need to complete specific paperwork to continue receiving disability benefits

If you are planning to travel abroad for more than 30 days, it is important to understand how this may impact your disability benefits. The specific requirements and paperwork will depend on your country of residence and the benefits you are receiving. Here is some information to help you navigate this process:

Notify the Relevant Office:

Firstly, inform the office that pays your benefits about your travel plans. In the UK, for example, individuals are advised to notify the office if they plan to go abroad for more than four weeks. In the US, it is essential to notify the Social Security Administration (SSA) prior to travelling internationally and inform them if you will be spending more than 30 consecutive days outside the country.

Understand Eligibility Requirements:

The eligibility criteria for receiving disability benefits while abroad vary depending on your country. For instance, in the UK, individuals can claim certain benefits, such as Attendance Allowance, Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for adults, and Personal Independence Payment (PIP), when travelling abroad for up to 13 weeks or 26 weeks if receiving medical treatment.

On the other hand, US citizens receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) can generally continue receiving benefits while abroad if they meet certain conditions, such as living in an approved country and staying for six months or less. For Supplemental Security Income (SSI), individuals may not qualify if they leave the US for more than 30 days.

Complete Necessary Paperwork:

To continue receiving disability benefits while abroad, you may need to complete specific paperwork. This could include forms related to your benefits claim, changes in personal details, or updates to your immigration or citizenship status. Contact the relevant government agency, such as the SSA in the US or the Exportability Team in the UK, to understand the specific paperwork required for your situation.

Consider Country-Specific Restrictions:

It is important to note that there are restrictions on sending benefit payments to certain countries. For example, the SSA in the US cannot send payments to Cuba or North Korea. If you are travelling to these countries, your benefits may be withheld until you return to an approved country.

Seek Country-Specific Information:

The eligibility criteria and paperwork requirements can vary depending on your country of residence. Be sure to seek country-specific information to understand the exact steps you need to take. For instance, the SSA in the US provides an online tool to help individuals determine their eligibility for benefits while abroad.

By following these steps and staying informed about the requirements in your country, you can help ensure that you complete the necessary paperwork and maintain your disability benefits while travelling abroad for extended periods.


The Social Security Administration (SSA) will not send disability payments to certain countries, including Cuba and North Korea

Individuals who are collecting disability benefits and intend to travel or move abroad should notify the Social Security Administration (SSA) of their plans. Generally, individuals can receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) when living in or travelling to another country. However, the SSA is not permitted to send disability payments to certain countries, including Cuba and North Korea. If a disability benefit recipient moves to another country where the SSA is allowed to send payments, they will be able to receive the payments owed to them while living in one of the restricted countries.

The SSA will stop paying SSI benefits if a US citizen is outside of the country for 30 days or more. Once the individual moves back to the US, the SSA will resume making SSI payments. The only exception to this rule is for children of military personnel enrolled in SSI—they can still receive SSI payments if they are forced to move with their parents to another country due to military service requirements.

US citizens can receive their Social Security payments outside of the US as long as they are eligible for them. To determine whether you can receive benefits outside of the US, use the SSA Payments Abroad Screening Tool.

If you are a non-US citizen and you are leaving or have already left the US for at least 30 days in a row, you must complete Form SSA-21, Supplement to Claim of Person Outside the United States. Generally, the SSA cannot pay Retirement, Survivors, and Disability Insurance benefits to noncitizens after their sixth calendar month outside the US. However, you might qualify for an exception, which could allow you to receive benefits without visiting the US.


Individuals collecting disability should research accessibility standards and facilities in their destination country, as these may differ from their home country

For individuals collecting disability benefits, thorough research is crucial when planning travel to another country. Accessibility standards and facilities can vary significantly across different destinations, and being well-informed ensures a smooth and enjoyable travel experience. Here are some key considerations:

Research Accessibility Standards:

Each country may have different accessibility standards and regulations. Familiarize yourself with the disability laws and guidelines of your destination country. These standards outline the requirements for facilities, buildings, and transportation to accommodate individuals with disabilities. Understanding these standards will help you know your rights and what to expect during your travels.

Understand Facility Accessibility:

Before booking your accommodation, research the accessibility features offered by hotels, resorts, or cruise ships. Check for step-free access, wheelchair accessibility, and adapted rooms and bathrooms. Inquire about the width of doorways, the direction they open, the size of the bathroom, and the availability of roll-in showers or grab bars. This information will help you determine if the facility can accommodate your specific needs.

Transportation and Mobility:

When it comes to transportation, different countries have varying levels of accessibility. If you require mobility assistance, inquire about the availability of adapted vehicles, wheelchair access, and the Blue Badge Scheme in your destination country. If you're travelling by air, familiarize yourself with the airport's accessibility services, including assistance during departure, boarding, and disembarking.

Equipment and Special Needs:

Consider any specialized equipment you may need during your travels. If you use an electric wheelchair, ensure that your destination has charging facilities. Bring necessary equipment, such as spare parts and voltage converters. Research the availability of equipment for hire at your destination, including back rests, bathing equipment, hoists, ramps, and special mattresses.

Travel Insurance and Benefits:

Obtaining comprehensive travel insurance is essential for individuals collecting disability benefits. Research and understand the coverage provided by your insurance in the context of your specific needs. Additionally, if you are receiving disability benefits, notify the relevant authorities about your travel plans. The eligibility for certain benefits may vary depending on your destination and the duration of your stay abroad.

By conducting thorough research and planning ahead, individuals collecting disability benefits can navigate the unique challenges of international travel and have a safe and enjoyable trip. Being well-informed about accessibility standards and facilities in the destination country empowers travelers with disabilities to make informed choices and have a positive travel experience.


When travelling abroad, individuals with disabilities should consider bringing a service animal and ensure their accommodation and transportation are accessible

Travelling abroad can be a challenging experience for individuals with disabilities, but with careful planning and consideration, it can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience. Here are some important things to keep in mind when preparing for international travel with a disability:

Service Animals

When travelling with a service animal, it is essential to understand the specific procedures and requirements of your intended destination. Service animals provide vital assistance, independence, and companionship to their owners, and airlines often have different procedures for their travel arrangements. Many airlines, such as United and Lufthansa, allow service dogs to travel in the cabin with their owners. Be sure to review the airline's policy in advance and notify them of your service animal. It is also important to carry official documentation, such as a letter from a medical doctor or mental health professional, to verify the legitimacy of your service animal. Keep in mind that countries have their own import rules, including vaccinations and paperwork, so be sure to research these requirements thoroughly.

Accessible Accommodation and Transportation

When booking accommodation, it is crucial to ensure that your specific needs can be met. Contact the accommodation staff directly and be specific about your requirements. Ask questions about accessibility and express your needs clearly. It may be helpful to request pictures of the facilities if you are unsure whether they meet your accessibility standards. Additionally, research the public transportation options at your destination. Find out if they cater to individuals with disabilities and if they can provide the necessary assistance. For example, Berlin, Germany, offers a free app called AccessBerlin, which provides information on accessible venues. Sydney, Australia, is also known for its disability-friendly infrastructure, with wheelchair-accessible buildings, sidewalks, housing, and transportation.

Other Considerations

When travelling with a disability, it is always a good idea to plan ahead and be prepared. Research your destination thoroughly and book your trip in advance to reduce surprises. Have a backup plan ready in case of unexpected situations. Bring important medical documents, including a European Health Insurance Card if travelling within Europe, and consider a doctor's letter summarising your conditions and medications. If you require assistive technologies, keep them in your hand luggage and inform staff about them in advance. Additionally, be aware of your rights as a passenger with a disability, as you are entitled to assistance when travelling in Europe by air, rail, ship, bus, and coach.

Frequently asked questions

Yes, it is possible to travel and even live abroad while receiving disability benefits, but there are rules and exceptions to keep in mind.

The specific rules depend on the country of residence and the country being travelled to. Generally, individuals should notify the relevant authorities, such as the Social Security Administration (SSA) in the US, before travelling.

Yes, in many cases, there are time restrictions. For example, in the US, individuals can continue receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) if they stay in another country for six months or less. For Supplemental Security Income (SSI), benefits will stop after 30 consecutive days outside the US.

Yes, individuals should research their destination and be aware that accessibility standards and facilities may differ from their home country. It is important to plan and prepare for any additional needs, such as assistive devices, medication, and service animals.

Written by
Reviewed by
Share this post
Did this article help you?

Leave a comment