Will I Lose My Disability Benefits if I Move to a Different State?

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Question:

Hi: I was just approved for disability benefits in California, but when I get my check for disability back pay, I'd like to take the money and move home where I grew up, in Texas. Will I lose my benefits if I take the money and move?

Answer:

The answer to your question depends on whether you're receiving SSDI or SSI payments.

SSDI

For disability recipients who receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) payments, moving to a new state won't affect your benefits at all. Just be sure to call your local Security office to give them your new address, so that you keep receiving important correspondence from Social Security and your disability checks (if you don't have direct deposit). Or, you can change your address online at www.socialsecurity.gov/changeofaddress.

SSI

For those who receive Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI), moving to a new state can change the amount of your monthly benefit check and could possibly even affect your financial eligibility for SSI benefits.

SSI monthly payment. While SSI is a federal benefit, most states add on a small amount of money (called a state supplementary payment) to the federal SSI payment each month. If your old state paid a supplement but your new state doesn't (or it pays a smaller supplement), your SSI check could be for a smaller amount.

SSI income limit. In addition, Social Security has a complicated formula for determining how much income you can have per month and still be eligible for SSI. If your state has no supplementary payment, the federal income limit is $721 per month. (However, not all income is countable, so you can actually have more income than that. For more information, see our article on countable income for SSI.)

In states that make the extra monthly payment to SSI recipients, the monthly income limit is higher than the federal maximum of $721, because the state supplement is added on. So if you're moving from a state with a supplement to one without one, you may have to have less income in your new state. (For more information, see our article on SSI income limits.)

Contact Your Social Security Office

If you are concerned about your SSI payment going down -- or losing your SSI benefit altogether -- call your local Social Security office. A claims representative should be able to help calculate your new SSI payment and the income limit in the state you're planning to move to so that you can compare them to the payment and income limit in your current state. You'll need to call the Social Security office to change your address anyway, because for SSI, you can't change your address online.

If your disability claim is still pending, moving out of state can delay your case and even affect the outcome. For more information, see our article on moving before getting approved for Social Security disability.

by: , J.D.

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