Have you spent years living and working in the United States, only to wonder if you’re entitled to the Social Security benefits that your tax dollars have been contributing to? It’s a common question, and the answer can be complex. In this article, we’ll clarify the eligibility requirements for Social Security benefits, including the retirement pension, which can be a valuable financial resource if you plan to retire in the US.
Next, we will answer the following questions:
- What is a Social Security pension?
- Who is eligible to receive a Social Security pension?
- How much is each pension check worth?
- Can non-U.S. citizens receive Social Security benefits?
- What types of immigration status qualify for these benefits?
- How do you apply for this pension?
What is a Social Security pension?
A Social Security pension, also called retirement benefits, is a government-run program that provides financial assistance to individuals who have reached retirement age and have worked and paid into the Social Security system. Once qualified, recipients receive a monthly check that replaces a portion of their income when they retire.
Who is eligible to receive a Social Security pension?
According to the Social Security Administration, to qualify for a Social Security pension, you must earn enough “credits” by working and paying Social Security taxes in the United States. Annually, you can earn up to four credits based on your income. In most cases, you’ll need to earn 40 credits (or ten years of work) to be eligible for benefits. You must also be at least 62 years old to start receiving benefits. However, you can delay your retirement to receive a higher benefit amount.
How much is each pension check worth?
Your Social Security pension amount depends on your average earnings throughout your working years, the age you begin receiving benefits, and the number of years you’ve paid into the system. The average monthly retirement benefit as of 2023 is $1,603, with a maximum benefit of $3,597 for those who start receiving benefits at full retirement age (67 years old). You can use the SSA’s free online calculator to estimate your potential benefit amount.
Can non-U.S. citizens receive Social Security benefits?
Yes, non-U.S. citizens can receive Social Security benefits. However, it depends on their immigration status and whether they meet the eligibility requirements. To be eligible for Social Security benefits as a non-citizen, you must have a work-authorized immigration status and have worked and paid Social Security taxes for 40 credits (or 10 years of work).
What types of immigration status qualify for these benefits?
To receive Social Security benefits as a non-citizen, you must be one of the following immigration statuses:
- Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR)
- DACA recipient or “Dreamer”
- Non-immigrant worker: an individual authorized to work in the United States temporarily, such as H-1B visa holders or E-1/E-2 treaty traders or investors
- Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients or those granted humanitarian parole.
How do you apply for this pension?
You can apply for a Social Security pension online, over the phone, or in person at a Social Security Administration (SSA) office.
- To apply online, click here.
- To apply via phone, dial 1-800-772-1213.
- To find your local SSA office, click here and call ahead to schedule an appointment.
During the application process, you must provide information about your age, work history, and immigration status. Be sure to bring a valid form of identification and your Social Security number. Once your application is processed, you will receive a letter from the SSA informing you of your eligibility and benefit amount.