TN 68 (01-24)

SI 00501.412 SSI Eligibility for Students Temporarily Abroad - Case Processing

A. Procedure - development of student abroad exception

Use the instructions in this section to determine if an individual who alleges plans to pursue studies outside the U.S. will continue to be eligible for SSI benefits during the period of absence from the U.S.

If a report of conducting studies outside the U.S. is received with insufficient information from the recipient to develop continuing eligibility, and the individual cannot be contacted before they leave the U.S., suspend benefits based on absence from the U.S. effective with the first full month outside the U.S. Advise the recipient of the information needed in the notice of planned action.

1. Recipient status

Verify the individual's eligibility for an SSI benefit for the month before the first month throughout which they are outside the U.S. Also, check the remarks block of the SSR to verify that the recipient has not previously received 12 months of benefits while eligible under this provision (see SI 00501.412H).

2. Development of student status with recipient

a. Prospective period of absence

Ask the recipient the following:

  • the dates they expect to be outside the U.S.;

  • whether they will be engaged in studies in all months outside of the U.S.;

  • the nature of the studies to be conducted abroad;

  • where the foreign studies will be conducted (including, where applicable and available, the name and address of the foreign educational institution);

  • the name of U.S. educational institution in which they are currently enrolled;

  • the program in which they are enrolled;

  • whether the pursuit of the studies outside the U.S. is a part of that program;

  • how the studies will enhance their ability to engage in gainful employment;

  • whether the educational institution in which they are currently enrolled will grant credit for such studies;

  • why they do not pursue the studies in a U.S. educational institution;

  • the name and telephone number (if available) of their academic advisor;

  • the name, address and telephone number of an individual in the U.S. who will know how to contact the recipient while they are abroad; and

  • whether they will return to the same address after completion of the foreign studies.

b. Verification of period of absence

Verify the actual period of absence upon the individual's return based on any evidence which establishes the date of exit from and reentry into the U.S.; such as a plane ticket, a passport, or similar evidence.

c. Documentation

Document the file with the evidence, a photocopy of the evidence, or a Report of Contact.

3. Development - educational institution and program requirements

Contact the individual's academic advisor at the educational institution they attend, or another knowledgeable representative of the institution in a position to provide the information (e.g., department chairman) to verify if:

  1. a. 

    the individual is enrolled as a student;

  2. b. 

    the educational institution attended by the individual is a school, college, or university as defined in SI 00501.411B.3. (see exception below);

  3. c. 

    the educational program (not just the studies abroad) will substantially enhance the ability of the individual to engage in gainful employment;

  4. d. 

    the studies abroad are sponsored by the educational institution, or the research to be conducted abroad is in fulfillment of the individual's degree program;

  5. e. 

    the proposed period of absence and the period the sponsored studies will be conducted are the same; and

  6. f. 

    studies the same as, or similar to, the studies abroad are not available to this student in the U.S.

Document the statement of the school official on a Report of Contact. Accept the school official's statement.

EXCEPTION: If an educational institution within the FOs’ service area is known not to meet the definition in SI 00501.411B.3. or it is questionable whether the definition is met, document on what basis the definition is alleged to be met. Verify as necessary with the appropriate agency. If alleged to be met based on the transfer of credits, secure the name and addresses of 3 accredited institutions that accept its credits on transfer and verify with those institutions.

4. Recipient is no longer conducting studies abroad

If, upon return to the U.S., there is reason to question whether the recipient was conducting studies during the period of absence (e.g., a meaningful discrepancy exists between the dates the recipient was to attend classes and the dates of absence, as evidenced by passport, etc.), request clarification of the recipient's study activities during the period in question.

Determine that eligibility as a student temporarily abroad is met if the recipient:

  1. a. 

    provides a reasonable explanation that resolves the question;

  2. b. 

    or educational institution provides evidence of school attendance or other study activities for the period in question;

  3. c. 

    did not attend school in a calendar month, followed by a period of attendance, because the school was closed throughout the month for a break or holiday; or

  4. d. 

    attempted to pursue studies or return home but was prevented from doing so by circumstances beyond their control (e.g., illness, natural disaster, civil unrest, etc.) and remained abroad until arrangements could be made to return to the U.S.

If attendance cannot be established during a calendar month of absence, and eligibility cannot otherwise be established under the above rule; or if the month in question would exceed the 12-month limit on eligibility for students outside the U.S., suspend eligibility effective that month. The rules in SI 00501.410B.4. apply for the reinstatement of eligibility after suspension because of absence from the U.S.

B. Procedure - development of living arrangements/in-kind support and maintenance

Follow these special procedures to develop living arrangements (LA) and in-kind support and maintenance (ISM).

NOTE: Whenever possible, develop this living arrangement change before the recipient leaves the U.S. However, these instructions also apply to changes reported after the recipient leaves the U.S., and to living arrangement changes made while the recipient is living abroad.

1. Consider temporary absence of child

If the recipient meets the SSI definition of child in SI 00501.010, determine whether they also meet the requirements for a temporary absence of a child attending school per SI 00835.042.

If yes, further development is not required because the ISM will be the same as in the permanent living arrangement.

If no, go to SI 00501.412B.2. ISM, if any, will be based on the living arrangements in the foreign country.

2. Consider in-kind support and maintenance

  1. a. 

    Ask whether the recipient has an arrangement with the school or placing agency to pay for all of their food and shelter while abroad. (This includes situations where a student pays a program fee to the school or placing agency and the school or placing agency arranges accommodations with a local family.)

    If yes, assume that the recipient will pay for their own food and shelter and will receive no ISM.

    If no, go to SI 00501.412B.2.b.

  2. b. 

    Ask whether the recipient will pay the provider(s) directly for all of their food and shelter while abroad.

    If yes, assume that the recipient will pay the current market value in presumed maximum value (PMV) situations or the pro rata share in one-third reduction (VTR) situations and will receive no ISM.

    If no, charge ISM at the PMV or VTR as appropriate.

    If the recipient pays for food only or for shelter only, charge ISM at the PMV for the unpaid in-kind item.

  3. c. 

    Document the ISM determination using the recipient's signed statement (e.g., SSA-8006-F4, SSA-795) and any evidence that is in the recipient's possession. Third-party verifications (e.g., householders, providers) are not required.

    EXCEPTION: If the recipient seeks to rebut the PMV, or otherwise appeals the ISM determination, follow normal ISM rules (i.e., third-party verification, including overseas contacts may be needed).

    To determine the value of the ISM, convert the household expenses, pro rata share, current market value, etc., from foreign currency to U.S. dollars. Use the exchange rate in effect as of the first month for which the determination is being made. It is not necessary to revise this determination for following months due to subsequent fluctuations in the exchange rate unless the recipient requests a review due to a more favorable exchange rate.

C. Procedure - state supplementation

Follow the rules in SI 01410.010 for determining residence for State supplementation purposes and make a determination on paying a State supplement.

Determine the State supplement based on the individual's foreign living arrangement, and use the State supplement code of the eligible individual's residence State that corresponds to the foreign living arrangement.

D. Procedure - medicaid 1634 states

Explain to the individual that Medicaid does not provide reimbursement for medical services obtained outside the U.S.

Refer the individual to the Medicaid State agency for an explanation of their Medicaid status.

Prepare a note to the Medicaid State agency about the individual which explains:

  • the dates of the individual's expected absence from the U.S., and

  • that the individual is an SSI recipient whose eligibility can continue for up to 1 year while outside the U.S. as a student under the provisions of section 1611(f)(2) of the Social Security Act.

E. Procedure - address

Determine whether a recipient who will be temporarily abroad as a student will continue receiving their SSI payments at a U.S. address or at a temporary foreign address.

Encourage recipients to use a U.S. mailing address or direct deposit to a bank in the U.S. where possible, particularly if the absence will be brief or the individual is unsure of the reliability of mail service to the foreign address. Some U.S. banks allow customers to withdraw funds through automated teller machines in foreign countries.

Explain to an individual who requests foreign payment that:

  • the method of SSI check delivery to a foreign address is determined by the Department of the Treasury based on the country to which the check is being sent;

  • delayed or lost international mail may result in late receipt or nonreceipt of SSI checks while the recipient is abroad;

  • direct deposit to foreign banks is not yet available to SSI recipients living abroad.

    See SI 00501.412F.2. for foreign address input instructions.

F. Procedure - payment process

1. Address inputs - payment to U.S. address

Follow the instructions below if payment will continue to be made to a U.S. address:

  1. a. 

    Mailing Address (AD) field - Input appropriate U.S. mailing address.

  2. b. 

    Mailing Address ZIP Code (ZP) field - Input ZIP code appropriate to U.S. mailing address.

  3. c. 

    Residence Address (RA) field - If the U.S. address that payment is based on differs from the mailing address, input appropriate U.S. residence address (otherwise, leave blank).

  4. d. 

    Residence Address ZIP Code (ZC) field - If RA field is input, use ZIP code appropriate to residence address.

  5. e. 

    Living Arrangement (LA) field -

    • Date - Input date following normal rules.

    • State and County Code - Input the code appropriate to the U.S. residence address upon which payment will be based.

    • Federal Living Arrangement (FLA) - Input the FLA code based on the living arrangement determination for the foreign residence (e.g., FLA/A or FLA/B).

    • Optional State Supplementation Code - Input the code based on the living arrangement determination for the foreign residence using the code for the State of U.S. residence.

    NOTE: When it is necessary to input ISM as type “H” unearned income, follow normal input procedures.

2. Address inputs - payment to foreign address

Follow the instructions below to make payment to a foreign address:

  1. a. 

    Mailing Address (AD) field - Input the foreign mailing address, including any foreign postal zone code and consular code.

  2. b. 

    Mailing Address ZIP Code (ZP) field - Input the ZIP code as ZP199999 in all cases.

  3. c. 

    Residence Address (RA) field - Input the U.S. address upon which the payment is based.

  4. d. 

    Residence Address ZIP Code (ZC) field - Input ZIP code appropriate to U.S. residence address.

  5. e. 

    Living Arrangement (LA) field - Follow instructions in SI 00501.412F.1.

  6. f. 

    Systems Override (SO) field - Input SOST in all cases.

NOTE: SSI payments to a foreign address can be sent automatically. However, manual notices are required - see SI 00501.413.

3. Diaries

Establish a diary (code RT) for the expected date of the individual's return to the U.S. (up to 365 days) to redetermine eligibility. In “Remarks” type RT DIARY - “STUDENT ABROAD-VERIFY RETURN-LA-AD.”

When the individual returns or the diary matures, verify the period of absence, correct the mailing address where payment was made outside of the U.S. and clear the RT diary along with the redetermination. (See SI 02301.240 if the recipient does not contact the FO and cannot be located after the scheduled date of return.)

G. Procedure - development of eligibility while abroad

Development of continuing eligibility during a period of absence from the U.S. may be severely hampered by problems in contacting the recipient. Have the recipient provide the name of an individual in the U.S. who will know how to contact them during the period of absence.

Because of circumstances unique to each situation, such as reliability and speed of mail service, ability to contact the recipient by telephone, the ending date of the period of absence, and the expected impact of the development on eligibility, the FO should make a case-by-case assessment of the feasibility of initiating development versus deferring development until the recipient's return.

Develop immediately based on a posteligibility report, diary, or alert if it indicates a probability of incorrect payment and the date of the recipient's expected return to the U.S. is sufficiently far in the future to permit development abroad. Develop issues requiring a contact abroad through the Office of International Operations (OIO) (see GN 00904.000 and GN 00905.000 for further information). The following telephone numbers have been specifically identified for this purpose: 1-410-965-9285, 965-9288, or 965-9293.

NOTE: OIO staff may not be familiar with SSI program requirements. Be prepared to explain exactly what information is needed when requesting development through OIO.

H. Procedure - record documentation

1. Recipient abroad

Use the remarks (RMKS) segment of the SSR to record information necessary to determine when the recipient left the U.S., where they are temporarily residing abroad (if not entered in mailing address), and the U.S. contact.

2. Past period as a student abroad

Document all months the individual is eligible under this provision after a period of absence in the RMKS segment of the SSR as follows:


I. References

The following is a partial list of references that relate to these instructions:

To Link to this section - Use this URL:
SI 00501.412 - SSI Eligibility for Students Temporarily Abroad - Case Processing - 01/03/2024
Batch run: 01/03/2024