If you've applied for Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability benefits, moving to another county or even to another state probably won't have much impact on your case. (But you must update your address with Social Security so the agency can contact you.)
SSDI and SSI are federal programs, so the eligibility rules for these programs are usually the same regardless of the state where you filed your application—with two exceptions (discussed below). Here's what you need to know about changing your address if you move before your Social Security claim is approved.
You should report the move to your local Social Security field office and, depending on the status of your disability claim, the hearing office. Whether your move affects your case depends on where your claim is pending and whether you move within your state or out of state.
If you've applied for disability benefits and then moved, you'll need to change your address with Social Security. If you've applied for SSDI and you live in the United States (or one of its territories), you can change your address in one of three ways:
If you've applied for SSI disability benefits or don't live in the United States or a U.S. territory, you'll need to call the national Social Security number or contact the closest Social Security field office.
Your state's Disability Determination Services agency (DDS) handles initial applications and reconsiderations (the first level of appeal). DDS will determine if you qualify medically for Social Security disability benefits. If you move while a decision on your disability case is still pending in DDS, your claim might have to be moved to another DDS office.
If you move within the same state, your claim will probably stay at the same DDS office, and DDS will just change your address on file. (Most states have more than one DDS location.)
If you move out of state, Social Security will notify DDS that your claim must be transferred to the DDS agency in your new state of residence. But unlike social services programs administered at the local level, such as food stamps, when you've applied for Social Security benefits, you don't need to set up a new case file in your new county or state of residence.
Disability hearings (the second level of appeal) are decided by federal administrative law judges (ALJs). The Office of Hearings Operations (OHO) in your state schedules and hosts the ALJ hearings. If you move within the same state, you'll likely have your hearing at the same hearing office.
But if you move to a different state while awaiting your ALJ hearing, your hearing could be delayed. When you move to a new state, you lose your place in line in your old state and go to the back of the line in your new state of residence.
If you're awaiting an ALJ hearing when you move, you're expected to notify both Social Security and the OHO. (To locate your local OHO hearing office, see the hearing office locator.)
You'll likely wait a year or more for your disability hearing to be scheduled. So if you're still waiting to have your disability case heard by an ALJ, you might be reluctant to notify Social Security of an address change to a new state because this could further delay a decision on your claim.
That extra delay is why some disability applicants who move to a new state decide not to report their move or new address to Social Security or OHO. But if you do this, there is some risk. After all, you need to be sure you'll receive all notices from Social Security and OHO, such as:
But if you're confident that all your mail will be forwarded to you promptly, this decision doesn't usually have any real repercussions (other than the inconvenience of having to travel back to the original state for a CE or to attend the hearing).
On the other hand, if the judge who hears your case finds out you moved, the ALJ might refuse to hear your case—some judges won't hear your case if you live out of state because, in their view, your case is no longer under their jurisdiction. A judge might be tipped off to your move if OHO receives any new medical records from a doctor in a different state and enters them into evidence.
If you're applying for SSI disability benefits, moving to a new state might affect whether you qualify for SSI and how much you'll get. For instance, if you move from a state that pays an SSI supplement to a state that doesn't, the amount of your monthly benefit will be less. And if you move from a state that doesn't offer a supplement to one that does, your benefits will increase.
Most states add a state supplementary payment to the federal SSI payment each month. If your state makes this extra monthly payment to SSI recipients, the amount of that payment affects both of the following:
Even if you move from a state that pays an SSI supplement to another state that pays a supplement, the amount of your SSI benefit will still likely change. You could even lose your eligibility for SSI disability benefits because of the differences in the income limits between the states.
Updated November 30, 2022