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Excerpted from "Social Security Handbook". See the up-to-date, official Social Security Handbook at ssa.gov.

Absence from the U.S.

1844. Absence from the U.S.

1844.1 When does a period of absence from the U.S. begin?

If you are an alien, a period of absence from the U.S. begins with the first full (24-hour) day you are outside the U.S.

1844.2 Are benefits affected if you return within 30 days?

If you return to the U.S. before 30 full days in a row have passed, we consider your period of absence as broken. Your benefits are not affected.

EXAMPLE: Ms. Kopper leaves the U.S. on March 31 and returns on April 30. Since she is outside the U.S. for only 29 full days (April 1-April 29), her period of absence is considered broken and her benefits are not affected.

1844.3 Are benefits affected if you remain outside the U.S. for 30 days?

If you remain outside the U.S. for 30 full days in a row, your period of absence is considered unbroken until you return to the U.S. and stay for 30 full days in a row. If you do not return for 30 full days in a row, your benefits are suspended effective with the seventh month after the month you left the U.S.; that is, after six full calendar months in a row have passed.

EXAMPLE: Miss Kelly leaves the U.S. on May 15, returns on August 1, and leaves again on August 20. Because she is outside the U.S. for (at least) 30 days, her August visit of less than 30 days does not break her period of absence and her benefits are suspended effective December, the seventh month after her departure month of May. If Miss Kelly had delayed her second departure until September 1, she would have been in the U.S. for 30 full days (August 2-August 31). The period of absence that began on May 16 would have been broken and a new period of absence would have begun effective September 2.

1844.4 Can benefits start again after they have been suspended?

Once your benefits have been suspended because of your absence from the U.S., they may not start again until you return to the U.S. and remain for one full calendar month.

EXAMPLE: Mr. Michael's benefits are suspended in October because of his absence from the U.S. He returns to the U.S. on January 31 and leaves again on March 1. Mr. Michael's benefits are resumed for February, the first full calendar month he spends in the U.S. (Note that the number of days in the calendar month is not a factor.)

Last Revised: March, 2001


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