Changes Needed To Prevent Commuters and Transients From Receiving Supplemental Security Income

HRD-80-15: Published: Jan 4, 1980. Publicly Released: Jan 4, 1980.

Additional Materials:


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

A review was made of the adequacy of the Social Security Administration's (SSA) policies, procedures, and practices for determining whether Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients remain outside the United States for 30 or more consecutive days and thus are ineligible for the benefits.

No significant problems were found in the SSA operation for detecting recipients outside the United States for 30 or more consecutive days. However, the concept of "resident in the United States" has not been sufficiently defined. Some SSI recipients receive payments while residing principally outside the United States, particularly along the Mexican border. The Social Security Act does not preclude a recipient from residing principally outside the United States for up to 29 days each month and remaining eligible for SSI benefits. Recipients become ineligible only when they are outside the United States for 30 consecutive days. There is a need to make the residency requirement more restrictive to preclude commuters, transients, and sojourners from receiving benefits.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The SSA should strengthen its policies and procedures to prevent individuals from receiving SSI while residing principally outside the United States. The Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare should direct the SSA Commissioner to: (1) define and clarify the term "resident in the United States" to preclude SSI payments to commuters, transients, or sojourners; (2) establish a policy to accept Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) determinations that aliens in commuter status live in Mexico and preclude SSI payments to such aliens until they are determined by INS to reside in the United States; and (3) revise claims manual guidance and make it more specific on types of evidence required by SSA border offices to verify residence, with emphasis being placed on types of evidence that establish principal place of residence.

    Agency Affected:


Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Feb 8, 2018

Nov 9, 2017

Sep 6, 2017

Jul 14, 2017

Jul 13, 2017

May 17, 2017

Apr 26, 2017

Feb 6, 2017

Looking for more? Browse all our products here