Social Security pays disability and retirement benefits to millions of Americans. It may also provide benefits for the legal dependents of the deceased. But this program is not limited to US citizens, and the rules contain several provisions for non-resident and resident aliens.
It might shock you, but many non-citizens in the USA are unaware they are eligible for Social Security benefits.
Are you a non-citizen living and working in the USA? This guide contains all the information you need to understand whether you qualify for Social Security benefits. For other details regarding the different towns and cities of the United States of America, you can click citydirectory.us.
- There are different types of Social Security benefits
The Social Security Administration runs various benefits programs. Besides offering benefits for retirees and their spouses, it provides survivor benefits for the children and spouses of deceased workers, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for disabled and older people with no or little income or financial assets, and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) for disabled workers.
The eligibility requirements for receiving the benefits of these programs differ. However, except for SSI, most programs require workers to have earned at least 40 work credits or ten years of covered work in the USA.
- Non-citizens are eligible to receive benefits
In the USA, the vast majority of workers have to pay 6.2% of their salary to Social Security. Regardless of how much you earn, this amount quickly adds up over time. So whether you have just joined the workforce or are about to retire, this money can greatly benefit you and improve your life.
To receive Social Security benefits, you must be working lawfully in the country. You can obtain these benefits even if you are a non-citizen living in the USA. The essential factor is that you must have accumulated 40 credits of work or a little above ten years.
However, you don’t have to meet 40 work credits alone. The work of your spouse or a direct family member may also count toward this amount.
To be eligible for receiving benefits, you must create a Social Security account. Then, you will get an estimate of the future benefits you are liable to get according to your income. You can also track what you have earned through your account.
- You can qualify for the benefits even if you don’t have enough work credits
Is it not your intention to work in the USA for ten years and earn 40 work credits? If so, you may still be eligible to receive benefits.
The United States of America has bilateral agreements with twenty-six countries. According to this, people working in other countries also qualify for receiving benefits, and they can combine their work credits in the USA with those earned in any one or two of the 26 countries.
Additionally, you do not have to pay out in the USA and your home country under this program. You only have to pay out in the country you are working.
If you have a minimum of six months of work credit in the USA before you retire, you will qualify for Social Security benefits.
- You may have to pay taxes on the benefits received
The IRS is always active regarding wanting its share of your earnings. There’s a wide range of exemptions and deductions, but on average, non-citizens in the USA see a 25.5% reduction in their Social Security benefits. This is done via withholding by the SSA.
Fortunately, you will get a refund on these taxes if you regularly file your US taxes. In addition, refunds are provided if the tax due is less than the amount withheld. For instance, if you spend most of your time outside the USA, it would be best to see if you qualify as a non-resident. In this case, the withholding will be eliminated entirely.
- The benefits can be collected even if you are not living in the USA
Aside from Cuba, North Korea, and other countries where the US Treasury has issued payment restrictions, you can live where you want and collect Social Security benefits.
The typical rule for non-citizens is that you must have lived in the US for an entire calendar month for six months.
However, there might be exceptions depending on the country you live in. For instance, if you live in China and are a Chinese citizen, you can receive benefits if you have received a minimum of 40 work credits in the USA.
So, if you are a non-citizen working and living in the USA, you must not relinquish the Social Security benefits you are entitled to. This guide should help you navigate the seemingly complicated process of receiving those benefits.