California residents who become disabled may choose to file for Social Security benefits. Some of these disability recipients wonder what would happen to their benefits if they move to another state with a lower cost of living. Because Social Security disability payments are governed by federal law, moving to another state won’t affect the amount of benefits received. However, some states offer supplements to disability payments that may be affected when a recipient moves.

The amount of Social Security disability payments received are not based on state or local living expenses. Instead, the amount is based on earnings prior to the onset of the disability. Over time, the monthly amounts received may increase due to cost of living increases determined by the federal government.

If a disability recipient notices his or her monthly payments have decreased, there may have been an overpayment or a garnishment. A common reason for overpayment is work activity. Social Security payments can be garnished to pay back taxes, child support, alimony, student loans and other federal debt. However, they cannot be garnished to pay back other types of credit obligations such as mortgages, credit card bills or medical bills.

Social Security disability applicants may benefit from consulting an attorney. To qualify for payments, a claimant’s disability must meet requirements determined by federal law. The Social Security Administration reviews claims based on the nature and expected duration of the disability as well as the claimant’s prior work history and education level.

An attorney could argue that a claimant’s disability will prevent the claimant from working in any type of field. In many cases, symptoms such as pain or exhaustion would cause a claimant to miss too many days of work to remain employed.