Many expats choose to retire abroad and enjoy an exciting, unique (and sometimes less expensive!) life abroad. But if you have chosen to marry a non-US spouse, it is important to consider how the US handles the distribution of Social Security benefits. Will he/she receive full survivor benefits? Dependent or spousal Social Security? In this brief video, we explain how Social Security works with non-US spouses.
Can my non-US spouse receive my Social Security benefits?
In most cases, the answer is yes. Foreign spouses generally qualify for Social Security survivor benefits which is the deceased US worker’s full benefit. A foreign spouse may also qualify to receive the dependent or spousal Social Security which is generally half of the US expat’s benefit.
The rule surrounding this are very complicated and it often depends on which country you’re living in, there’s exceptions in qualifications so we can’t go through everything about every country today. I’ll run through some of the main criteria that you need to meet.
Requirements for foreign spouses to receive Social Security benefits
- First of all, you have to have worked and contributed to Social Security for at least 10 years.
- You must be at least 62 years old to receive benefits but if you wait until you’re 70 the benefit payout is much higher.
- You cannot be resident in Cuba or North Korea. Although, if you were a resident in Cuba or North Korea and you move, you can get back Social Security payments you would have received in those countries once you obtain residency in an approved country.
- Lastly, payments cannot be sent to some specific countries, while others restrict payments. Because this list can change, it’s best to check the Social Security Administration website to get the latest updates on this.
Again, there’s a number of rules that you would need to look into depending on where you live and the specific tax treaties set up with those countries. For complete information please have a look at the Social Security website.