Can My Foreign Spouse Collect Social Security Benefits?

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Understanding how your future retirement planning might affect your spouse is important. For Americans married to non-U.S. citizens or residents, there are many instances where a foreign spouse may not be able to claim Social Security benefits depending on varying qualification regulations from a U.S. standpoint and from a foreign country-specific point-of-view.  

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In general, as a spouse, you can claim a Social Security benefit based on your own earnings record or collect a spousal benefit in the amount of up to 50% of your spouse’s Social Security benefit (but not both). The allowed Social Security retirement benefit for a spouse starts at 32.5% at age 62 and gradually increases to 50% of the amount that their spouse is eligible to receive at normal or full retirement age, which is 66 or 67 depending on their birth year.

However, if you are a U.S. citizen married to someone who is neither a citizen nor a resident of the United States, different rules apply depending on your age, the country of your residency and where you choose to live.

According to Greenback Tax Services, there are countries that the U.S. has Social Security agreements (or totalization agreements) with and other nations that have benefit payment restrictions placed upon them.

Retire Comfortably

To be able to receive Social Security benefits as a foreign spouse:

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To avoid unexpected impacts on your future incomes, knowing your and your spouse’s Social Security benefit plans is common sense. When a spouse is a non-U.S. resident, it is even more crucial to do your research with a financial planning expert or directly with Social Security because U.S. agreements and foreign government regulations can affect your plans significantly.

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