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The Unfortunate Truth of Vacationing on Social Security

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A senior couple traveling abroad and looking confused at their mobile device.

Many look forward to the freedom retirement can provide. No longer having to request time off to take a vacation is just one of the many perks. Retirement also typically means collecting social security, which can be beneficial to many Americans.

However, there are some things you should keep in mind when it comes to vacationing while collecting social security. Let’s take a look! 

Who Can Receive Social Security Benefits?

Social Security benefits are for anyone age 62 or older, who is disabled or blind, and who has sufficient work credits. You must also either be a U.S. citizen or lawfully present alien if you wish to receive Social Security benefits. To be eligible to collect Social Security benefits based on disability or blindness, you must meet certain rules and qualifications regarding working and your age.

There are a few instances where family members can also receive Social Security benefits. The first instance is if your spouse is 62 or older. The second instance is if your spouse is divorced from you, age 62 or older, and was married to you for at least 10 years before your divorce.

The final instance is if your spouse is under 62 and caring for a child entitled to benefits on your work record. The child must be under 16 or disabled before age 22 to be eligible.

A senior couple standing on the beach at sunset, looking out.

Your family can also receive Social Security benefits if you’re a widow or widower or are an unmarried child of disabled, retired, or deceased workers. There are particular circumstances where the government will pay out benefits to stepchildren, grandchildren, step-grandchildren, or adopted children.

Because there are so many layers when it comes to qualifying for Social Security benefits, it’s best to contact the relevant agencies directly. They’ll help verify your eligibility when it comes to any benefits. You can also check their extensive FAQ section online to help answer any questions you might have regarding eligibility.

Can You Stop Receiving Social Security Benefits While on Vacation?

If you’re planning to travel outside of your home state or out of the country for more than 30 days, you need to let the Social Security Administration (SSA) know. Failure to report changes to the SSA within 10 days can result in them paying too much, and you might need to return any overpayments. In some instances, the SSA will stop payments until they can decide on someone more suitable to represent the payee.

If the SSA discovers that you intentionally filed false or misleading statements or failed to report important changes, they may impose sanctions when it comes to your benefits. This could mean withholding payments for six months, 12 months, or even 24 months. There are even some instances where you could face criminal prosecution that would include fines and even imprisonment.

Where Does the Social Security Administration Not Send Checks?

You can receive your checks if you’re traveling or out of the country for an extended time. However, there are some countries where the SSA will not send checks. Those countries include Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

There are certain exceptions made to this rule, but these require qualification under special circumstances. You can find out if you qualify for an exception by contacting the SSA.

Traveling senior lady walks by sea front in golden hour.

How to Make Sure That You Keep Receiving Your Social Security Benefits While on Vacation

You don’t want to stop receiving your benefits while you’re traveling. There are a couple of things you can do to avoid any issues. Let’s take a look.

Get Direct Deposit

You want to make sure your direct deposit is set up correctly before heading out on your trip. Once you have set up your payment method, you’re not likely to experience any issues receiving your payments.

So it may be wise to delay payments until after you receive a benefit payment or two from the SSA. You can then set off on your adventures without worrying about your payments.

Notify the SSA About Your Travel Plans

If you’re vacationing and plan to spend more than 30 days in a state that’s not your principal residence, you’ll want to notify the SSA. This can change your benefit amounts as some states supplement federal benefits with additional benefits.

Traveler’s Tip: Here’s what to do if you have a health scare while traveling.

Does Traveling Affect Your Benefit Amount?

Traveling will not affect your benefit amount if you plan to spend less than 30 days in a different state. However, spending more than 30 days away might change your benefit amount.

This is largely because some states supplement federal SSA benefits with an additional benefit. To avoid any potential issues, reach out to your local SSA office and speak with them directly regarding your unique travel situation.

Senior woman using laptop and holding documents at home. Focused mature aged female using computer.

Should You Travel on Social Security?

Social Security benefits can play an integral role in funding your travels during retirement. By taking a couple of relatively easy steps, you can ensure you don’t run into any snags regarding your Social Security benefits.

Have you ever run into any issues while traveling on Social Security?

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