TN 64 (12-23)

SI 00501.411 SSI Eligibility for Students Temporarily Abroad - Overview


Social Security Act, Sec 1611(f)(2); Section 204 of Public Law 103-296;
20 CFR 416.214 and 20 CFR 416.1327

A. Background

Before January 1, 1995, only blind or disabled children of military parents stationed abroad could receive SSI payments if they were outside the United States (U.S.) throughout a calendar month. Effective January 1, 1995, section 204 of Public Law (P.L.) 103-296 established an additional exception for certain students who are temporarily abroad. The special rules regarding jurisdiction of cases involving children of military parents do not apply to processing payment to students abroad.

B. Glossary

The following subsection defines terms specific to this instruction.

1. Conducting Studies

Conducting studies includes carrying out a course(s) of study, and/ or conducting independent research, as part of a degree program.

2. Educational Program

An educational program is a course of study prescribed by a school, college, or university as a prerequisite for awarding a degree or other certificate of completion.

3. School, College, or University

A school, college or university must meet any one of the following conditions:

  1. a. 

    It is operated or directly supported by the U.S., or by any State or local government or political subdivision; or

  2. b. 

    It has been approved by a State, or accredited by a State-recognized or nationally recognized accrediting agency; or

  3. c. 

    Its credits are accepted, on transfer, by not less than three institutions which have been accredited by a State-recognized or nationally recognized accrediting agency, on the same basis as if transferred from an institution so accredited.

4. Sponsored by a School, College, or University

Studies are part of an educational program sponsored by an educational institution (e.g., a school, college, or university) in the U.S. if they are acceptable in fulfillment of the requirements of an educational program offered by the institution.

Courses of study can be conducted by the sponsoring institution, by another institution in cooperation with the sponsoring institution, or by another institution whose credits are acceptable on transfer to the sponsoring institution.

5. Student

A student, for purposes of this provision, is an individual enrolled in a degree program in a school, college or university, and who is conducting studies in fulfillment of the requirements of that program. Age is not a criterion in determining student status. (A student, for purposes of this provision, does not need to meet the same criteria as a student child for purposes of the earned income exclusion provision.)

6. Studies not Available in the U.S.

Studies are not available to the individual in the U.S. if:

  1. a. 

    the individual is pursuing research that requires examination of source materials not available in the U.S. (e.g., unpublished documents available only in the archives of a foreign State, etc.); or

  2. b. 

    the individual's academic specialization requires courses that either are:

    • not offered by the educational institution in which they are enrolled in the U.S., and are not available to the individual at other educational institutions in the U.S.; or

    • actually unavailable to the individual, even if offered at another educational institution in the U.S., because the course credit is not acceptable if transferred to the institution where the individual is enrolled, or not open to the individual because of academic or other requirements (e.g., cost or admission criteria); or

  3. c. 

    the individual's study program requires immersion in the cultural and/ or social milieu of a country.

C. Policy

1. Continued Eligibility as a Student Temporarily Abroad

Effective January 1, 1995, an SSI recipient will not lose SSI eligibility (including 1619(b) eligibility) for up to 12 months in which they are absent from the U.S. throughout a month if:

  1. a. 

    they were eligible to receive an SSI benefit for the month immediately preceding the first month during all of which they were outside the U.S., and

  2. b. 

    the absence will not be for more than 1 year, and

  3. c. 

    the absence is for the purpose of conducting studies as part of an educational program that is:

    • designed to substantially enhance the ability of the individual to engage in gainful employment;

    • sponsored by a school, college, or university in the U.S.; and

    • not available to the individual in the U.S.

A recipient can have multiple periods of benefit continuation under this provision while outside the U.S. However, SSI eligibility can continue for a total of no more than 12 months for all such periods even if there is a break in SSI eligibility.

2. When Loss of Eligibility as a Student Occurs

An otherwise eligible SSI recipient who is temporarily entitled to benefits while outside the U.S. as a student, will lose such eligibility based on absence from the U.S. effective with the earlier of:

  1. a. 

    the first full calendar month of absence from the U.S. beginning after they ceased to be abroad to engage in conducting studies (see SI 00501.412A.);

  2. b. 

    the month after the 12th month of eligibility under this provision (cumulative or in a single period of absence); or

  3. c. 

    the month after reporting an intent to remain outside the U.S. for more than 1 year.

3. Conditions of Eligibility

Aside from the requirements regarding presence in the U.S., all other program rules apply as if the individual were in the U.S.

4. State Supplementation

a. General

An individual eligible as a student temporarily abroad generally remains a resident of the State in which they resided prior to departure. If residency in a State is established, State supplementation appropriate to their living arrangements is payable in accordance with the rules of that State (see SI 00501.412C.).

b. Change of Residence After Foreign Study

For State supplementation purposes, an individual remains a resident of a State until the first day of the month following the month of arrival in a new State of residence. That is true even if the recipient does not intend to return to their current State of residence after a period of study abroad. Thus, the foreign address at which the recipient resides during a temporary absence under this provision is not a new State of residence for State supplementation purposes.

5. Medicaid

Medicaid coverage is not available to students who are eligible for SSI benefits during a period of temporary absence from the U.S.

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SI 00501.411 - SSI Eligibility for Students Temporarily Abroad - Overview - 12/27/2023
Batch run: 12/27/2023