Non- Immigrant workers are eligible for Social Security Benefits after Leaving the United States

Thousands of people work in the United States each year under a variety of nonimmigrant visas. Each of these workers must contribute to the social safety net designed to protect people as they reach the age of retirement. However, the vast majority of people living and working in the United States under nonimmigrant visas may not live in the United States when they reach the age of retirement. So how can individuals who lived and worked in the United States for years claim their employment benefits after leaving the United States?

The Social Security Administration has created a guidebook titled “Your Payments While You Are Outside the United States,”[1]. While much of the guidebook is focused on advising American citizens on receiving their Social Security benefits after moving out of the United States, there are sections regarding the eligibility of foreign citizens who worked in the United States who are eligible to receive Social Security. Many countries have agreements with the United States which allow citizens of those countries to receive benefits even after you no longer live in the United States. Depending on the country of your citizenship, you have to prove that you worked in the United States for at least ten years. Once you have established that you are eligible to receive Social Security benefits, you can begin the process of applying.

The process of applying for Social Security benefits after leaving the United States can vary based on your preferences. For efficiency, the Social Security Administration has an online application that can be used anywhere in the world, https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/retirement/. In addition to this online application, you can apply over the phone by calling 1-800-772-1213. Lastly, you can also apply in person at your nearest U.S. Social Security office, U.S. Embassy, or consulate[2].

Whichever method you choose to utilize, you must prepare carefully by having available all requested documents. The Social Security Administration has a helpful checklist of documents and information you will need when applying[3]. Some of the information and materials you will need are your date of birth, information on your spouse, your children, your employment information, and banking information.

Millions of people receive Social Security benefits, and millions more apply each year. If you have all the documents and information needed, the process of applying for benefits can still take some time as the government will need to verify your information, approve your application, and begin the process of sending out your first payment. However, this should not stop anyone from applying for the benefits they spend years working for. If you paid into the system, you have every right to be paid back.

[1] https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10137.pdf

[2] https://www.ssa.gov/foreign/

[3] https://www.ssa.gov/hlp/isba/10/isba-checklist.pdf

By: Rahul Reddy

Rahul is the founding partner of Reddy & Neumann P.C. His practice covers employment-based immigration, in which he represents corporate clients in far-ranging industries.