Many people who are waiting for Social Security to approve their applications for disability benefits find that they want to move. Often, people will need to be with family in another state. A number of clients have asked what happens if they move. The short answer is that a person can move to any place in the United States (as well as many countries around the world) without having a negative impact on his or her disability claim. The important thing to remember is that Social Security is a federal program. That means, it is available in all of the states.
In theory, when you move to another state, your case should be treated as if it had been in that new state all along. By this I mean, the new Social Security hearing office should slot you in along with all the other cases the same age as yours. There is no punishment for being new to the hearing office. That said, not all hearing offices have the same wait times. For example, say you leave the Tucson hearing office when you are six months from your court date. If you go transfer to a hearing office that has twice the current wait time as Tucson, you are now a year away from a hearing. This is something to ponder. You can see how far behind the new hearing office is by checking at this website.
Keep in mind, as well, that some hearing offices have much lower approval rates than others. You can find data on this by looking here. You might find that by moving to another hearing office you are going to wait longer with a smaller chance of getting approved.
One option is to move but come back for your hearing. Social Security generally wants cases heard where the claimant lives. A judge could decide not to hear your case, but rather send you to the hearing office nearest where you live. Even if that did not happen, many of your doctors are going to be from another state. A local judge might not feel as comfortable judging the merits of the treatments provided by doctors and hospitals she has never heard of.
The Bottom Line: If You Need To Move, Move
The bottom line is that if you need to move, you should move. Your case will follow you. But, do some research before you call U-Haul. Tell your current lawyer that you are moving. Your current lawyer may be able to personally recommend a lawyer who practices in your new location. Once you are settled in, contact Social Security with your new address. Ask them to transfer your case to where you are now living.
As always, if you have any questions about this, please email or call.