Saturday, October 10, 2009

R2I - How can I get my Social Security benefits/money?

Are you planning to Return to India (R2I)? Are you wondering whether you'll be eligible for the Social Security Benefits when you retire? This blog post is aimed at answering some of your concerns/questions regarding Social Security benefits/account. I've compiled it like a FAQ for easy reading.
  • Can I get my Social Security contributions when I return back to India?
  • Will I be eligible for Social Security benefits when I reach the retirement age?
          It depends. You should've got atleast 40 credits for you to be eligible for Social Security benefits.
  • How do I earn a Social Security Credit?
          According to SSA website "When you work and pay Social Security taxes, you earn up to a maximum of four credits for each year" For more details look at Social Security website.
  • How long would it take for me to earn 40 credits?
          It would approximately take 10 years for you to earn 40 credits.

          "The amount of earnings it takes to earn a credit changes each year. In the year 2009, you must earn $1,090 in covered earnings to get one Social Security or Medicare work credit and $4,360 to get the maximum four credits for the year". Refer to Social Security website for up to date information.
  • How do I notify Social Security Administration (SSA) about my change in address?
          SSA doesn't maintain your address records if you are not getting benefits currently (i.e., until you reach your retirement age). SSA gets the information from IRS (Internal Revenue Service). So, keep the IRS informed about your change of address. You can notify IRS regarding the address change by using Form 8822.
  • Will I get my SSA benefits when I reach the retirement age?
          Yes, according to the SSA website - if you have earned 40 credits.
  • Will I get my SSA benefits even if I'm not in US during my retirement?
          Yes (You can read the "Your Payments while you are outside US" question in SSA website)
  • Will I get my SSA benefits, even if I am NOT a US Citizen? (added later based on readers' feedback)
          Yes. You'll get your SSA benefits, even if you are NOT a US citizen, during your retirement.

          Assuming that you are going to Return to India (with or without US Citizenship, doesn't matter), you  *ARE* eligible for SSA benefits if you have 40 credits. You can find more details here at SSA website

          India is one of the countries listed under "You are a citizen of one of the countries listed below, and the worker on whose record your benefits are based lived in the United States for at least 10 years or earned at least 40 credits under the U.S. Social Security system. If you are receiving benefits as a dependent or survivor ..."

  • Will I have to lose my Social Security savings, if I don't live in US for 10 years?
          Unfortunately, yes! You have to lose your SS savings, if you don't live in US for 10 years. India is still working with the US government for Indian citizens to 'transfer' the credit to Indian pension plan. But, this is definitely going to take a lot of time.
  • How do I apply for SSA benefits when I reach my retirement age?
          Contact your nearest US embassy/consulate. They'll assist you with the process.
  • How can I lock my SSN?
          Read the blog post How to apply for Credit Freeze during R2I?
  • Where can I find more information regarding Social Security Questions?

Note: The information included in this blog post is subject to change. Please read the FAQs in SSA website to get the up-to-date information

Related Posts:

R2I Checklist - 25 things to do
How to apply for Credit Freeze during R2I?