What Happens To My SSI and Medicaid Benefits If I Travel

If you travel outside the United States without taking proper precautions, you could lose your eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid POMS: SI 02301.225 you are ineligible if you are out of the country for a full calendar month or 30 consecutive days.

Once you lose benefits, you can get reinstated, but you will be ineligible until you can prove that you’ve been back in the U.S. for 30 days. If an SSI recipient is a child living with a parent serving in the U.S. military outside the U.S., then there is an exception in the rules that allows the child to receive benefits regardless of location.

How does the Social Security Administration determine that an SSI recipient has been out of the U.S. for more than 30 days?

Certain factors indicate to the agency that an SSI recipient is not in the U.S. These include:

  • The agency requests information to update a record for a continuing disability review and the SSI recipient fails to respond to the request.
  • Relatives or other parties respond when the agency requests information or third parties contact the agency to ask for the recipient’s appointments to be rescheduled.
  • The SSI recipient was absent from the U.S. in the past, and the record reflects periods where SSI benefits were suspended in the past due to travel.
  • The supplemental security income record shows a direct deposit to a foreign bank yet the individual has a U.S. address.

These instances could be due to a vacation or other causes, but the recipient may need to prove their presence with evidence of travel documents or statements from neighbors or others with knowledge of the recipient’s presence in the U.S. Otherwise, their benefits could be terminated.

Does travel affect eligibility for Medicaid the Same Way?

Medicaid operates differently in different states, so the answer to the question depends on your state of residence. In most states, Medicaid eligibility is tied to SSI eligibility, commonly referred to as 1634 states, thirtyseven of our fifty states operate this way, so if you lose SSI, you also lose Medicaid. The remaining states eligibility rules are not linked as closely, so it can be hard to predict how Medicaid will be affected by travel without some research into the rules of your particular state.

To protect our client’s eligibility, CPT Institutes requires a Trust Beneficiary who wants to travel for longer than 30 days to get a legal opinion from a qualified Special Needs Planning Attorney before traveling. It is a good idea for all recipients of SSI or Medicaid to check with an experienced attorney before planning a vacation. A knowledgeable attorney or a Medicaid representative could also advise whether your Medicaid coverage can help if you are injured or ill while traveling out of your state of residence because the rules differ according to each state program.

Where can I get more information?

If you are a Trust Beneficiary with CPT, you can start by talking to your CPT Representative. If you want to speak to a qualified Special Needs Planning Attorney and don’t already have a legal advisor in place, the following organizations can help you find an attorney to suit your needs:

DISCLAIMER: The information provided by CPT Institute is for informational purposes only and is intended to be used as a non-legal guide prior to consultation with an attorney familiar with your specific legal situation. CPT Institute is not engaged in the practice of law or in rendering legal advice or counsel. No such legal advice or counseling is either expressly or impliedly intended. This form is not a substitute for the advice or counsel of an attorney. If you require legal advice, you should seek the services of an attorney.© 2023 CPT Institute All rights reserved.