Will Your Non-US Spouse be Able to Receive Survivor, Dependent, or Spousal Benefits?
IJ Zemelman Jun-05-2015
It’s not uncommon for a US Expat to marry an individual who is not a US Citizen. One major concern of US Citizens with a Non-US Spouse is whether or not the spouse will be able to collect survivor benefits once the US Citizen passes away.
In most cases, your Non-US Spouse will be able to collect survivor benefits, dependent or spousal Social Security. Survivor benefits will be 100% of the deceased worker’s benefits. Dependent or spousal Social Security would allow the Non-US Spouse to receive half of the US Citizen’s benefits.
There are various rules surrounding Social Security distributions to a surviving spouse, and each country is different, so you’re encouraged to research the country in which you reside to see if there are any rules or restrictions. As far as the United States is concerned, you need to have contributed to the US Social Security system for at least 10 years in order to receive benefits. You must also be at least 62. If you wait until you are 70 to begin receiving benefits, you will receive a much higher amount. If you are living in Cuba or North Korea, you will not be able to receive Social Security benefits. Once you move out of these countries, though, you will begin receiving benefits and you will receive the payments that were withheld (assuming you don’t move to another country in which payments may not be sent which are listed below).
Other countries to which payments may not be sent include: Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.
I.J. Zemelman, EA is the founder of Taxes for Expats