Social Security: Report Changes Promptly to Keep Receiving Your Benefits

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You could lose your Social Security, disability, or SSI benefits if you don’t report a change in marital status to the Social Security Administration (SSA), as GOBankingRates reported recently.

However, there are many other changes you must also report in order to retain your benefits. The SSA says that failure to report changes could result in payments being delayed or stopped. If you don’t report a change within 30 days of the end of the month that the change occurred, you could receive an underpayment or overpayment of benefits. If the SSA overpays, you’ll have to pay back that money.

Additionally, if you fail to report changes (or provide false information to the SSA), your benefits will be halted for six months for the first violation, 12 months for a second offense, and 24 months for a third offense.

What Events and Changes Must Be Reported to the SSA?

In addition to reporting any changes in marital status, name changes, and a change-of-address, the SSA outlines a list of other changes that must be reported. You can report changes by phone, mail or in person at an SSA office near you.

Here’s a brief outline of the changes you must report.

Banking Changes

If you close the bank account where you receive direct deposits of benefits, you’ll want to notify the SSA immediately to avoid delays in receiving your deposit.

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International Travel

If you plan to travel outside the U.S. for more than 30 days, you’ll want to notify the SSA so it can redirect your checks. You’ll want to provide your travel dates and the names of the countries you plan to visit.

Changes in Employment Status

If you collect social security disability and decide to take a job — or start a business as a self-employed independent contractor — you must notify the SSA of this change, regardless of the amount of pay. The SSA will want to know how many hours you plan to work and how long the arrangement will last.

If you still qualify as disabled, the SSA allows a trial work period where you can continue receiving benefits for up to 9 months, according to

You Begin Receiving Other Benefits or a Pension

If you qualify for other disability benefits and begin receiving payments or receive a lump-sum settlement related to your disability, you’ll need to report the income to the SSA.

Similarly, let the SSA know if any other benefits have stopped.

Invitation to Participate in “Ticket to Work”

If you receive a “Ticket to Work” from Social Security, which could entitle you to vocational training or job placement assistance, it could change your benefits. You’ll want to let the SSA know if you’ve received the invitation and if you are taking advantage of this voluntary program.

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You Can No Longer Manage Your Benefits

If you’ve assigned a “power of attorney” to manage your finances for you, that person doesn’t automatically qualify as a representative payee for your Social Security benefits. You’ll want to notify Social Security to assign that person as your representative payee, the individual who will receive your benefits on your behalf.  

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