Short answer: maybe. Longer answer: it depends.
The Social Security Protection Act of 2004 (P.L. 108-203) requires an alien whose application for benefits is based on a Social Security Number (SSN) issued January 1, 2004, or later to have work authorization at the time an SSN is assigned, or at any later time, to gain insured status under the Social Security program. Aliens whose applications are based on SSNs issued before January 1, 2004, have all Social Security-covered earnings counted toward insured status, regardless of their work authorization status. In addition, the Social Security Act prohibits the payment of benefits to aliens in the United States who are not “lawfully present,” but under certain circumstances, alien workers and dependents/survivors may receive benefits while residing outside the United States (including benefits based on unauthorized work).
If eligible, receiving Social Security benefits while living abroad may or may not be a simple matter. For example, in a few countries one cannot receive Social Security payments. If one lives in one of the banned or restricted countries payments will be withheld, but they will be restored once the person moves to a non-restricted country.
For details about Social Security payments while one is out of the United States, review Social Security Administration Publication No. 05-10137, ICN 480085 by mail from the Social Security Administration, at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate, or from the website: http://www.ssa.gov (here: http://fpc.state.gov/documents/organization/46681.pdf).
Best of luck to your friend.
Disclaimer Information on this site is provided by Brian Scott Wayson as general information, not legal advice, and use of this information does not establish an attorney-client relationship. If you have questions about your specific situation, please call an attorney.