Travel: When You Have Income From Government Programs
Whether you can receive continuing income while traveling depends on the source of the income and how long you travel.
Social Security retirement benefits, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and VA disability compensation
Checks are payable to Americans citizens outside the country over 30 days. Checks can even be mailed to a foreign address.
- Aliens: In many cases Social Security is not payable overseas to any alien - even aliens who are qualified U.S. "permanent residents"!. This is so even though many aliens fairly acquired those benefits through taxes paid while working. See http://www.ssa.gov/pubs/10137.html for details. Of course, Social Security and other benefits are not payable at all -- even for work on which taxes were paid -to illegal aliens, whether they are in the U.S. or outside it.
Private, employer and union old age and disability pensions and income-insurance programs
Provisions vary. Check the plan materials and ask detailed questions before leaving.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), VA disability pensions, general assistance, home relief, home energy assistance, food stamps, school lunch program enrollment, Women's, Infants' and Children's (WIC) benefits, HOPWA and other housing subsidies
Income and benefits are canceled for anyone out of the country (or, usually, even the state) for over 30 days.
When officials discover the travel, or when people dropped from benefits reapply upon their return, difficult questions about how the "luxury" of travel could have been affordable (for someone supposedly poor enough for welfare) must be answered satisfactorily. While it's possible to simply not tell public agencies about the travel to avoid this problem, the difficulty is that you are on written notice -- under penalty of fraud -- to alert agencies to just these changes of circumstances.
Agencies' telephone calls and letters -- if not promptly and properly answered -- can and do quickly alert them that a disqualifying loss of residency has occurred. Agencies swiftly cancel benefits when they get "not at this address", "moved", "addressee unknown" or change-of address responses through the post office and they respond similarly when they encounter telephone recordings announcing a disconnected number or referring callers to new numbers out-of-state.