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Traveling Out of the U.S. with Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Benefits

People who receive Social Security Disability Insurance benefits will want to research their rights if they plan on moving out of the country. People who relocate or travel for extended periods of time out of the country may be at risk of losing those benefits. Whether your benefits are jeopardized will depend on the type of benefits you receive.

There are three different programs that the U.S. Social Security Administration is responsible for administering.  The largest program in term of recipients and budget is the Social Security Old Age and Retirement benefits.  This is the program that workers pay into by having money deducted from their paychecks. This is part of the Federal Insurance Contribution Act (FICA) that is listed on your pay stub and is technically different from income tax.  The reason it is different is because FICA money is apportioned between SSA funds, and the IRS tax money is largely put into in the nation’s general fund.

deniedWhen you reach the age of retirement, you are entitled to a monthly benefits check.  While the age when you can legally retire and claim benefits keeps going up, you can retire earlier, but you must take at least a 25 percent reduction in your benefits. You can also provide for your spouse if he or she survives you, but that requires a reduction in payment.

In addition to this program, there are also the two disability benefits programs that use FICA revenue. One is the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program, and the other is the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program.

The SSDI program, as our Boston disability attorneys can explain, is the program for workers who paid into the system through FICA withholdings, similar to the payment of a premium on a private long-term disability insurance plan.  When you become disabled and cannot longer work, you should be entitled to a monthly payment of benefits.  However, it should be noted that SSA makes it a long and difficult process to be awarded benefits, because this will save them money in the budget by paying out as little in benefits as possible.

There is also a program known as the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program.  This is a disability benefits program that is designed to help disabled children who live in very low-income households, disabled elderly individuals who do not have enough work credits to have paid into SSDI, and the blind. The income guidelines for this program are very strict.

Wicked Local Norwell recently explored the issue of whether travel abroad may affect benefits. The exact impact will on what type of disability program the person is in and how they they will be outside of the U.S.   In the case of Social Security Disability Insurance benefits and Old Age and Retirement benefits, you are allowed to be outside of the U.S. for as long as you are eligible to receive benefits. However, you will have to be in the U.S. for your periodic review SSA does sometimes to make sure you are still disabled and in need of benefits.

On the other hand, if you are receiving SSI benefits, and you leave the United States, you will likely lose your benefits, since that is disability program for citizens who live in the U.S., and that includes the contiguous 48 states, Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the District of Columbia, and any other U.S. territory.

Questions about this should be discussed in advanced with an experienced SSDI lawyer.

If you or a loved one is seeking Social Security Disability Insurance in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:

 EVERYTHING SOCIAL SECURITY: You’re covered when abroad, December 2, 2016, By Kristen Alberino, Wicked Local Norwell

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Social Security Disability Judges Allegedly Used Racial and Sexual Terms on Claimants’ Applications, July 22, 2016, Boston SSDI Lawyer Blog