Do Immigrants Receive Social Security At Age 65?

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Social Security is a federally provided benefit that most Americans enjoy after retirement. But do immigrants receive social security at age 65? Let’s find out.

In the United States, Social Security is the program that provides retirement and disability benefits to everyone (who is qualified) and their children, survivors, and spouses. 

The criteria for qualification are simple; the worker must be at least 62 years old and must have paid social security benefits for ten years to get benefits. Oh, and lest I forget, you must be a U.S. citizen or a lawfully present alien.

That last statement is where this question comes from: Do immigrants receive social security at age 65? Unfortunately, there is no straight answer because many immigrants do not receive the benefits because of that sentence.

Do Immigrants Receive Social Security At Age 65

However, if you are an immigrant, all hope is not lost. Some immigrants are, in fact, eligible to draw benefits in the United States just like an American citizen staying abroad. Those immigrants must have either 40 U.S. credits or come from a country that has a totalization agreement with the United States. 

The United States has a totalization agreement with more than 25 countries. It helps an immigrant to combine the work credit from both the U.S. and his home country. This article will talk about social security benefits for immigrants who qualify for these criteria. Read on to know if you qualify.

What Are Social Security Credits?

The Social Security credits are accounting units an individual earns during the time that they are working and paying social security taxes. You have to collect credits to get retirement or other benefits from the Social Security Administration. 

You have to earn at least four credits in a year, and we already know that you need to work at least ten years for social security, so the math works out to at least 40 U.S. credits. So how do you collect these credits?

You get one social security credit for $1510 you earn as wages. You get four credits by earning $6040 in a year. Remember: credits are used only for qualification. You may earn more than 40 social security credits during your work life. It will not affect your retirement or other benefits. The 40 credit rule holds for adults aged 62 years and above.

But if you become disabled at a younger age, you can get disability benefits provided by the Social Security Administration with few credits. For instance, if you are disabled before the age of 24, you can get social security benefits by having just six credits.

Do Immigrants Receive Social Security At Age 65

Do Immigrants Receive Social Security After 65 Years?

Sadly, many people who arrive in the United States in their old age do not get social security benefits because they are not able to accumulate 40 social security credits.

But if an immigrant legally works in the United States for one and a half years after arriving may receive prorated U.S. social security benefits under a totalization agreement with his home country.

What Are Totalization Agreements?

A totalization agreement between two countries ensures that an individual doesn’t have to pay social security taxes for two different countries. The United States has a totalization agreement with 32 countries. They are as follows.

Czech Republic
Slovak Republic
The United Kingdom
South Korea

How Does a Totalization Agreement Work?

You can consider the following scenario to illustrate how totalization agreements work.

Suppose you have recently moved to the United States in your old age. You lived in Spain for most of your life, but when you were younger, you spent nine years working in an American Company. At that time, you had earned 36 Social Security credits.

So, you are in short of 4 Social security credits to get retirement and other benefits for Social Security Administration. But you have worked in Spain for almost 12 years. In Spain, you should work for at least 15 years to get retirement benefits.

Fortunately, the United States has a totalization agreement with Spain. You can combine the work credits of both Spain and the United States to receive retirement benefits from the Social Security Administration.

If the totalization agreement were not there, you wouldn’t get retirement benefits from either of the two countries despite paying taxes in the two nations for 21 years!

Do Immigrants Receive Social Security At Age 65

Can I Collect Social Security Benefits From Abroad?

Yes, you can collect Social Security benefits even when you are staying abroad. Some immigrants stay in the United States for a long time and even earn 40 social Security credits. 

But after retirement, they decide to move back to their home country. Fortunately, they still get Social Security benefits after returning to their home country.

How Can An Immigrant Get A Social Security Card For Working In the United States?

A social Security card is essential to work in the United States. The Social security card contains a unique Social Security number necessary to collect security benefits and receive other Government services.

There are three types of Social security cards.

  • The most common type of social security card contains a name and Social Security number. It is given to U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents.
  • The temporary workers and the people with non-immigrant VISA status are authorized in the United States by the Department of Homeland Security to get a Social Security Card with a unique number.
  • The last type is issued mainly for tax purposes and cannot be used for 1-9 forms or employment.

Some undocumented immigrants obtain fake Social Security numbers or steal from somewhere and utilize them to get jobs. 

According to the Social Security report, those immigrants have to pay billions of dollars a year for FICA tax Withholding. The money ends up in trust funds with which social security benefits are paid to the people.

However, if you are an immigrant, you can apply for a Social Security card in two ways.

  • You can apply for a Social security card while applying for an immigration Visa with the U.S. Department of State before moving to the United States. Your social security card will arrive at the given address three weeks after you arrive.
  • If you are lawfully there in the United States, you can contact the Social Security office for a Social Security card and number.
Do Immigrants Receive Social Security At Age 65

What Do I Need To Submit To The Social Security Office For Getting A Social Security Card?

You have to prove your identity and work-authorized immigration status. Again you have to show your immigration documents and your unexpired foreign passport.

You might like to read: An Overview Of Government Benefits For Seniors

Wrap Up

Some immigrants are eligible to get Social security benefits after 65 years of age by staying in the United States or earning from the US while staying abroad. 

But many older adults fail to get these benefits because they arrive in the United States in their old age and cannot meet the immigration requirements provided by the Social Security Administration.

The Social Security Administration reports that 37 percent of individuals who fail to get social security benefits are immigrants who arrive in the U.S. after 50 years and above and have insufficient earning history.

The regulation of Social Security benefits for immigrants is a bit complex. If you are confused or have any queries, it’s best to contact a Social Security office representative.

I hope this article gives you all the information that you need to claim your social security benefits, and please don’t forget to share this article with others searching for this information.

If you have further questions about what we have explained above, or are just looking for more information, please drop us a comment and we will try to get back to you as soon as possible.