If my mother lives overseeas for a year and comes back to the states, can she reapply for Medicare?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 24, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

My mother-in-law is now 72 years old and has received the SSI benefit for many years. Before, she had worked for less than five years in the states. Will she qualify for the social security benefit?

She wanted to live at overseas for a year and come back to live in the states. Can she reapply for either social security benefit and medicare, or SSI benefit?

Expert Answers

Barbara Steinberg is the CEO and founder of BLS Eldercare Financial Solutions, which specializes in helping families pay for long-term care for their loved ones. A registered financial gerontologist, she speaks regularly on the topic of paying for long-term care and is a financial expert for Caring.com.

Since your mother-in-law worked less than 10 years (40 quarters in government parlance), she is not elibible for Social Security retirement benefits on her own. If her husband worked more than 10 years and paid into Social Security, she may be eligible to collect his Social Security. Since she is not currently receiving Social Security, I'll assume this doesn't apply. Because she has low income, your mother-in-law receives Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Since she doesn't meet the Social Security retirement benefit requirement, your mother-in-law cannot received Medicare without paying the premium. Since Part A alone can cost up to $450/month, I assume she cannot afford it. However, since she is receiving SSI, she may be eligible for Medicaid to cover her health care. You need to check with your county or state to find out what the rules are where she lives.

If your mother-in-law leaves the country for more than 30 days, she will lose her eligibility for SSI. She can reapply after she returns.