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Dependent benefits

I am a US citizen receiving social security benefits.  I live in South America and am married to a Colombian national who has never been to the US.  She is 35.  If we have a child will the child or her be eligible for any dependent benefits?  Any US residency requirements?

 

I have talked to 3 different SSA agents and have received 3 different answers.  Yes, no and maybe.

 

The SSA website is very confusing on this subject as evidenced by their 3 different responses by phone.

 

Anyone have any knowledge on this subject?

 

Thanks

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Honored Social Butterfly

This SSA pamphlet may offer you some help since it does take a lot of SS info and puts it into one place.  However, note that it does use the term "may" quite a bit and many of the rules are country specific.

Pay special attention to the heading of

"Additional residency requirements for dependents and survivor" in the pamphlet.

SSA.gov - Your Payments While You Are Outside the United States EN-05-10137 

 

 

 

It's Always Something . . . . Roseanna Roseannadanna
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Contributor

Thank you.

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Gold Conversationalist

@JackW716462 

 

This document seems to be the one that addresses the governing rules for your situation. The "CFR" is the Code of Federal Regulations; essentially the Federal laws. So this is the source for everything.

 

https://www.ssa.gov/OP_Home/cfr20/404/404-0460.htm

 

This mentions that tricky 5 year rule as well. 

 

This is not a trivial document to read through.

 

Edit:   AARP gives some useful information, probably coming from the mentioned document. See https://www.aarp.org/retirement/social-security/questions-answers/can-non-us-citizens-receive-exspou...

 

also found some other threads another thread that may relate:

https://community.aarp.org/t5/Social-Security/Divorced-spouse-benefits-for-non-citizen/m-p/2336830

 

 

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Contributor

Thanks for your research.  A complicated subject it seems.

 

Under section B part 2 it says non payment does not apply if the US citizen has 40 quarters of coverage and 10 years of living in the US which I do.  I hope that is the correct interpretation.

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I will have to make an appointment with SSA when I am back in the states.  

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@JackW716462 

 

There is this handy "screening tool" for people outside of the US. I stepped through it answering as for a spouse or survivor of someone who was a noncitizen/nonresident. Give it a try.

 

https://www.ssa.gov/international/payments_outsideUS.html

 

 

edit to add:   there is this (weird) "5 year rule" that applies in some cases, the spouse/survivor must have resided (legally) in the US with the SS beneficiary (while they were working or collecting SS). It seems to depend on the country of citizenship and/or residency of the spouse/survivor. This is the rule that gives me concern for many cases.

 

"Have you resided in the U.S. for at least five years, while you were in a family relationship with the worker on whose record you are entitled as the spouse, former or surviving spouse, or parent or child?"

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@JackW716462 

 

This is a complex issue and I do have some interest in this due to some peripheral connections. Consequently I have done some research on this several times over several years. My conclusion last time around was that it did not look good for a noncitizen, nonresident spouse to obtain spousal or survivor benefits. And I sure hope I am wrong on this!

 

To offer some resources (while I continue to poke around into this once again myself), there is this document from the SSA (recent update March, 2021) https://faq.ssa.gov/en-US/Topic/article/KA-02543

 

There have been a couple threads in this AARP forum with related inquiries over the past several years. I recall that one of the lay experts here provided some good information; I will try to hunt down that post...let me get to work looking.

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Yes it is a complex issue.

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@JackW716462 

 

Here's a thread from 2 years back that I thought was useful/helpful

https://community.aarp.org/t5/Social-Security/Non-Citizen-wife-survivor-benefits/m-p/2211186

 

Well, maybe it's not as applicable to your situation (and the one that I am interested in as well) because while the spouse is a non-citizen they may (or may not) be resident in the US, the original post did not make that clear and it was never clarified.

 

 

 

now, why'm I interested in this? my wife is Filipino and has relatives in the Philippines. We have visited there a number of times and I am aware that there are a lot of guys from the US who go there to live or to retire, cheaply, in both cases. They may be retired military, or they just have a sense of adventure, or 'something' motivating them, different in all cases. Anyway, I would see these guys in the malls, etc, with a beautiful young Filipina and maybe a few young children. And I would wonder what had been promised to the young woman. I firmly believe that if they are married then the wife (and later, widow, if comes to that) should be entitled to the guy's Social Security benefits. But I really have wondered whether they really are legally entitled to these. It would be tragic if the couple spent 30 years together, guy thinks his widow will be taken care of with Social Security, then he dies and widow finds out "nope".  

 

haha, there is a bit more to my story. My wife was a Canadian citizen when we met. She came here (US) on a fiance visa and we married. I have made sure that she is covered on all counts for SS and other security issues. Now that I am retired it turns out that we are moving to Canada so I also will be an immigrant. 

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