September 6, 2017
Many people don’t want to do anything that may jeopardize their ability to receive Social Security disability benefits. The approval process takes a long time; for residents of Indianapolis, the wait for a hearing alone is typically 19 months. Claimants don’t want to get rejected or have their benefits revoked over something they could have prevented.
Social Security disability is a complicated system. Your eligibility may be affected by seemingly unrelated details, such as your marital status or your spouse’s income. It’s no wonder that claimants have lots of questions about what might affect their benefits, including moving.
It matters not only where you move (within Indiana, out of state, or out of the country) but also when you move in regards to your own approval process (while applying or appealing versus after you’ve been approved) and what kind of disability you’re applying for (disability insurance benefits (DIB) or supplemental security income (SSI)). We’ll take a look at each of these scenarios so you can be prepared for how your move may affect your disability claim.
Moving Within Indiana
Typically, you can move within Indiana while applying for Social Security disability benefits or while appealing a denial without jeopardizing your claim. However, it’s important to let both your disability attorney and the Social Security Administration (SSA) know that you have changed your address. Although the approval process can take a long time, some portions of the process have fast-approaching deadlines. Your attorney should always have up-to-date contact information for you so they can reach you when they have news regarding your case.
If you’re in the middle of waiting for a DIB hearing when you move, keep in mind that your hearing will likely remain at the hearing office at which it was originally scheduled. You should be prepared to travel to that hearing office regardless of where you move within the state of Indiana.
Moving Out of State
Since Social Security disability is a federal program, moving out of state shouldn’t affect your DIB claim too much. However, it does matter when in the approval process your case currently is.
If you’re in the midst of applying for DIB or you’ve submitted a request for reconsideration after receiving your first denial, your claim should be fairly easy to move to another state. But if you’re waiting for a hearing, you should know that you will likely “lose your spot” in waiting for a hearing and get bumped to the end of the line in the new state you move to.
That means that if you move from Indiana when your hearing is just two months away, you may be signing yourself up for another year and a half of waiting in your new state.
You’re required to alert the SSA as well as the ODAR (Office of Disability Adjudication and Review) of a change of address, and it’s important to make sure your disability attorney knows as well. It’s not a good idea to pretend you didn’t move, either. If a judge finds out you moved, they may refuse to hear your case because it’s out of their jurisdiction.
However, if you’ve already been approved for DIB, moving shouldn’t affect your benefits. You will not have to reapply for DIB once you move; your approval will carry over to your new state.
If you’re applying for or have been approved for SSI, moving out of state will typically not affect your approval status, but it may affect the size of your monthly benefit.
Most states have what’s called a state supplement that increases the amount of household income you are able to have while still being eligible for SSI. Each state supplement is different, ranging from $10 to $200, and each state may have different rules attached to who qualifies for the state supplement.
If you’ve been approved for SSI in Indiana and you’re receiving a state supplement, your monthly benefit may decrease if you move to a state without state supplements (Arizona, Arkansas, Mississippi, North Dakota, Tennessee, and West Virginia) or if you move to a state where you don’t qualify for a state supplement. You won’t have to reapply for SSI when you move, but you may have to reapply for the state supplement.
Every case is different. If you think you may be moving out of state anytime soon, talk to your attorney as soon as possible so they can help you determine how it may or may not affect your claim.
Moving Out of the Country
If you’ve been approved for DIB, leaving the United States may or may not affect your benefits.
What matters is whether or not the country you’ve moved to is exempt from U.S. Treasury regulations. There are also other countries in which Social Security may not be able to send your benefits to you except under restricted conditions.
The U.S. Treasury regulations forbid Social Security from sending payments to Cuba or North Korea. Except under certain conditions, Social Security also cannot send benefits to:
Beyond these countries, as long as you are a U.S. citizen and you are still eligible for your benefits, Social Security can send your benefits to you while you live outside of the country.
While you are living abroad, you will receive questionnaires from the SSA to help them determine whether or not you are still eligible for your benefits. You’re required to complete, sign, date, and return the questionnaire as soon as possible, or else your benefits may stop. Depending on your situation, you will either receive a questionnaire between May and June every year or every two years.
You will be expected to report some information outside of the questionnaire as the need arises, including but not limited to:
- Change of address
- Any work you’re engaging in outside of the United States
- Improvements in your disability or continuation of work after a trial work period
- Marriage, divorce, or annulment
For a full list of what you are required to report to Social Security, click here.
Keep in mind that, since you are living outside of the United States, it will likely take longer for your benefits to reach you if you receive your benefits by mail. Your benefits may not arrive on the same day each month like they typically would in the United States.
Depending on what country you live in, you may be eligible to receive your benefits by direct deposit. For more information, click here.
Remember that living outside of the United States does not exclude your benefits from being subject to taxation.
Help from an Indiana Disability Attorney
Regardless of where you live, if you need disability benefits, you shouldn’t hesitate to apply. An Indiana Social Security disability attorney can help. Call Hensley Legal Group today or contact us online for a free consultation.