Qualifying for Social Security as a Legal Immigrant

Authorized immigrants who meet the Social Safety Administration (SSA) necessities for work credit—or who earned the equal of Social Safety credit by their work historical past of their earlier nation—can obtain advantages within the U.S.

Social Safety advantages embrace funds to certified retirees or these with disabilities and survivor advantages for the partner and kids of a deceased employee. This text explains how immigrants to the USA can qualify for Social Safety advantages.

Key Takeaways

  • Authorized immigrants can qualify for Social Safety advantages in the event that they earn sufficient work credit over their careers.
  • To earn credit within the U.S., immigrants must have a Social Safety quantity and pay Social Safety taxes.
  • The U.S. and greater than 25 different nations have Social Safety totalization agreements, permitting authorized immigrants to mix work credit from the U.S. and their house international locations.
  • People have to be certified aliens to be eligible for Supplemental Safety Earnings.
  • Immigrants may qualify for Social Safety Incapacity Earnings based mostly on their work historical past, army service, or different standards.

Step 1: Get a Social Safety Quantity

To qualify for Social Safety as a authorized immigrant, you could have a Social Safety quantity (SSN). Many individuals apply for one through the immigration course of or are in a position to go to a Social Safety workplace in particular person to finish this course of. This may require filling out Social Safety Type SS-5.

Authorized immigrants additionally want a Social Safety quantity to be employed by any law-abiding employer in the USA. The employer will then report your wage earnings to the federal authorities underneath your title and your SSN. That means, the Social Safety Administration can join work credit to people and be sure to obtain the work credit and advantages you’ve gotten earned.

Step 2: Begin Incomes Work Credit

After you have an SSN, the next move is to build up 40 Social Safety work credit. You earn one credit score for each quarter wherein you earn at the very least $1,510 for 2022 to a most of 4 credit per 12 months. This quantity jumps to $1,640 in 2023. This method applies to everybody born since 1929, and 40 credit are the equal of 10 years price of labor. 

How Your Social Safety Advantages Are Calculated

Incomes sufficient work credit means you’re entitled to Social Safety advantages when you attain retirement age. The scale of your profit will rely in your common earnings over your 35 highest-earning years in addition to how outdated you’re once you begin to gather advantages. 

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The Social Safety Administration will alter your earnings historical past for inflation and decide your common listed month-to-month earnings. Utilizing that determine, they are going to then calculate your profit quantity.

Observe that in case you begin claiming retirement advantages as early as you’re eligible—age 62—you’ll obtain about 25% much less every month than if wait till your full or regular retirement age (between 66 and 67, relying in your 12 months of delivery). In the event you delay claiming advantages previous your full retirement age, your month-to-month profit will improve as a lot as 32% by age 70. After age 70, your profit maxes out and there’s no additional cause to delay amassing.

The Social Safety Administration estimates that the common month-to-month Social Safety profit for retirees might be $1,827 in 2023. Retirees obtained a mean of $1,681 per thirty days in 2022.

You’ll get an additional 8% per 12 months in case you wait previous your full retirement age to gather advantages. After age 70, nonetheless, your advantages do not develop any additional.

How Social Safety Taxes Work

To be eligible for Social Safety advantages, you’ll pay a 6.2% Social Safety tax in your earnings as an worker as much as the annual most, which is $147,000 in 2022 and $160,200 in 2023. Your employer kicks in one other 6.2% to cowl the total quantity, which is 12.4%.

In the event you’re self-employed—for instance, you are a contractor or freelance employee—the calculation is totally different. Within the eyes of the federal government, you’re each the worker and the employer, so you could pay each halves. Which means your complete contribution to the Social Safety tax is 12.4%.

Qualifying With Earnings From One other Nation

Authorized immigrants who haven’t earned sufficient work credit within the U.S. would possibly nonetheless qualify for advantages in the event that they’ve earned sufficient work credit from one of many greater than 25 international locations with which the U.S. has what is named a “totalization settlement.”

These international locations are:

  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Eire
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Luxembourg
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Slovak Republic
  • Slovenia
  • South Korea
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • United Kingdom
  • Uruguay

The small print of those agreements differ by nation and are too complicated to cowl right here, however yow will discover them on the Social Safety Administration’s Standing of Totalization Agreements web page.

In the event you lack sufficient work credit to qualify for Social Safety within the U.S. however have credit from one of many international locations listed above, you’ll be able to mix credit from each international locations and obtain prorated Social Safety advantages. That may be useful in case you immigrated to the U.S. later in life and are unlikely to place in 10 years of labor within the U.S. earlier than you’re able to retire.

Nevertheless, “the agreements enable SSA to mix the U.S. and international nation credit provided that the employee has obtained at the very least six credit of U.S. protection,” notes Z. M. Ishmurzina, a CPA and accomplice with Artio Companions, a Chicago tax agency specializing in companies for U.S. ex-pats and international nationals.

Eligibility for Supplemental Safety Earnings

Supplemental Safety Earnings (SSI) supplies a month-to-month profit to adults with restricted earnings and monetary sources who’re blind, disabled, and at the very least 65 years outdated, in addition to to certified disabled youngsters. To say SSI advantages, you have to be a authorized U.S. resident who has not been in another country for a month or longer. In the event you or your baby meet the factors, you might qualify for SSI along with the Social Safety advantages you earn by working and paying Social Safety taxes.

To be eligible for SSI as a non-U.S. citizen, you have to be a professional alien. Qualifying classes embrace being “Lawfully Admitted for Everlasting Residence (LAPR),” having been given conditional entry earlier than April 1, 1980, being a refugee admitted underneath sure circumstances, and different designations. The SSA web site has a full listing of the seven classes of non-U.S. residents who’re thought-about certified aliens.

 In case you are in a type of classes, meet residency necessities, and shouldn’t have a disqualifying prison historical past, you might be eligible to obtain SSI.

Additionally, your partner’s or your mum or dad’s work can rely towards the mandatory credit you must get SSI (however not retirement advantages). You might also qualify underneath various different SSI-qualified-alien tips.

Eligibility for Incapacity Advantages

The Social Safety Incapacity Earnings (SSDI) program pays advantages to employees who change into disabled, together with authorized immigrants. Even if you’re not a U.S. citizen, you might qualify for these advantages based mostly in your work historical past, army service, or different standards. Paying into the Social Safety system by payroll taxes usually means you’ll qualify, assuming you additionally meet the SSA’s definition of incapacity.

Eligibility for Survivors Advantages

When you have a deceased partner who certified for Social Safety advantages, you might be eligible for Social Safety survivor advantages. Sometimes, you must be at the very least 60 years outdated, and your deceased partner will need to have accrued 40 work credit. The principles are extra lenient if minor youngsters are additionally survivors, or in case you or your youngsters are disabled. Surviving divorced spouses may qualify.

The profit quantity will depend on your age and your partner’s work historical past. Your survivor advantages could also be lowered in case you’re working or in case you remarry. You don’t need to qualify for Social Safety advantages by yourself to be eligible for survivor advantages. The essential guidelines that apply to U.S. residents for survivor advantages are typically the identical for authorized immigrants.

If You Depart the USA

Authorized immigrants to the U.S. ought to understand how leaving the nation impacts advantages (along with the one-month rule, talked about above, that applies to SSI). Your Social Safety document is everlasting, so even in case you don’t work for a time frame, you progress overseas, or you weren’t required to pay Social Safety taxes sooner or later, the credit you earned beforehand will nonetheless be intact, Ishmurzina says.        

In the event you go away the U.S. after you begin receiving any kind of Social Safety advantages, your advantages is perhaps affected. In the event you’re alternating between residing in the USA and in a foreign country, you might or could not have the ability to gather SSDI advantages, relying in your immigration standing, how lengthy you permit the U.S. for, and the opposite international locations wherein you’re residing. 

Getting Assist With Your Advantages

Authorized immigrants with restricted English abilities can get Social Safety advantages info on-line in a number of languages. In addition they can request an interpreter when calling the Social Safety Administration or visiting certainly one of its places of work. 

In case your declare for advantages is denied, the SSA will present a cause for it, Ishmurzina says. In the event you disagree with the choice, you’ll be able to resubmit your declare and supply any extra info required by the SSA. To attraction a retirement advantages choice, name the SSA at 800-772-1213 (TTY 800-325-0778) or contact your native Social Safety workplace. 

If you end up in a sophisticated scenario, you might need to search authorized assist from an legal professional with experience in Social Safety advantages for immigrants.

The Backside Line

You don’t need to be a U.S. citizen to qualify for Social Safety advantages. Your advantages might be based mostly on how a lot you earned and whether or not you’ve paid into the system for sufficient years. If your property nation has a totalization settlement with the U.S., you could possibly mix work credit from each international locations as a way to qualify.