What You Ought to Know About Being on Disability and Traveling

Being on disability means you have a medical condition that prevents you from working, and you are receiving money that subsidizes your life. There is such a thing as both short and long-term disability. If you’re on short-term disability, that probably means you will recover from your current medical condition at some point, and then you might be able to rejoin the workforce.


Disability is something for which the federal government pays. It gets the money to pay workforce members who can’t work, either temporarily or in the long term, from mandatory payroll tax contributions. In other words, you’re paying into the federal disability fund while you’re working, and then you may be able to take advantage of that money if you injure yourself or get sick.

The system does seem to work pretty well, for the most part. However, you need to be careful when you’re on disability. You don’t want the government to get the impression you’re actually faking your condition, or you are not as sick or injured as you are letting on.

Does that mean you can’t go on vacation when you’re collecting disability payments? It’s an interesting question that we’ll explore in this article.

The Answer to This Fundamental Question

The question of whether you can travel while on disability is rather complex. The short answer is that you can, in fact, go on vacation or travel while still collecting disability payments. That does not, in itself, violate any conditions for you continuing to receive these payments to which the law entitles you.

However, the government is always on the lookout for fraud, and with good reason. It would be naïve to think that no one tries to defraud this system. Quite the contrary: there are plenty of individuals who try to game the system so they can live comfortably on disability payments while they are nowhere near as injured or sick as they claim.

You can travel while on disability, for vacation, to visit relatives, or for some other purpose. The government and the disability program could not very well expect you to put your entire life on hold just because you’re receiving payments.

The real key to traveling while on disability, though, is only doing things that your condition permits you to do. If you decide to go water skiing when your disability claim states that you can barely walk, that’s going to send up a red flag if someone happens to catch you.

What Does the Government Do to Catch Fraud in the Disability Program?

You might wonder whether there are individuals who try to catch fraud in the disability program. The answer is that there are definitely investigators who watch out for that sort of thing. The program wants you to hand over verification from doctors saying that you do have the medical condition you claim.

Apart from that, there are investigators who actually go out into the field to try and gather evidence suggesting that someone is gaming the system. They might try to get pictures of you while you’re doing something your condition should not permit you to do. They will then use that evidence to stop you from getting further payments, and you could face criminal prosecution for what you did.

Finding the Middle Ground

If you are not committing fraud, then there probably isn’t anything about which you need to worry. You might travel and go anywhere you like, and there’s nothing the government can do to stop you.

Still, the government is very wary about possible fraud, and if you do decide to travel, it’s probably best that you don’t use social media and brag about where you are and what you’re doing. If you keep a low profile, that’s likely the best policy, even if you’re not doing anything that very clearly screams “fraud” to someone who might be watching or listening.

Travel is good for you, and just because you are not at one hundred percent, that should not preclude you from doing it if you feel up to it. As long as you don’t do anything that tests your condition, you should be fine.

The disability program is also there for a good reason, and you should not feel bad about using it. That’s the reason why it’s there. Hopefully, your condition is not permanent, and you can rejoin the workforce once you recover from your illness or heal from your injury.