Social Security FAQ - Benefits After 10 Years of Work and More
Do I need to have a Social Security Card?
You must have a Social Security Card (Social Security Number, SSN) in order to work in the US. For more information, see Do I Need a Social Security Number / SSN?
How do I apply for a Social Security Card?
File Form SS-5 (Application for a Social Security Card) with your nearest Social Security office. This service is free. Forms are available online, at your nearest Social Security office, or by calling Social Security's national toll free number: 1-800-772-1213.
You must provide appropriate USCIS documentation stating the reason for needing a Social Security Card. For more information, see How to Apply for a Social Security Number or Card, Get SSN Application.
What happens if I work in the U.S., go back to my home country, return to the U.S. and start working again? Do I lose any Social Security credits?
No, you do not lose any Social Security credits; they accumulate in your Social Security account.
What happens if I have worked for 10 years and have met all Social Security conditions, and then I return to my home country? Can I receive Social Security benefits abroad?
For citizens of many countries, the answer is yes. However, see Social Security: Your Payments While You Are Outside The United States for full details. You may apply for Social Security benefits at your nearest U.S. consular office or U.S. embassy. For additional assistance with Social Security services outside of the U.S., see Social Security Overseas: Apply for SSN, Card, or Benefits Abroad - Outside the United States.
I will be working in the United States as a temporary worker. Do I have to pay Social Security taxes?
Yes and No. If you have USCIS temporary work status, and are not employed by an international company, for example, then yes, you will have to pay Social Security taxes at your place of work.
You said Yes and No. When is it No?
Many countries have reciprocal agreements with the U.S. when it comes to Social Security. If you are transferred from your country to work for the same employer in the U.S. for less than 5 years, and your country has a reciprocal treaty with the U.S., then you might not have to pay Social Security taxes. However, applicable taxes from your home country would be deducted from your wages, just as though you were stilling working at home, and your employer generally has to make the arrangements on your behalf. For more details, see Social Security Treaties and Agreements to Avoid Dual Tax.
I am nearing retirement age. Do I qualify for Social Security Retirement Benefits?
It depends. You must have worked legally in the U.S. for a total of 10 years, and earned 40 credits. You earn a maximum of 4 credits a year. For more information, see Social Security Credits - Qualifying for Social Security Benefits.
Can I get Social Security benefits when I retire?
If you meet all the conditions, you will be eligible for Social Security benefits. Remember, you have to have worked lawfully in the U.S., and paid Social Security taxes for the equivalent of 10 years to be eligible. For more information, see Social Security Credits - Qualifying for Social Security Benefits.
What happens if my application for Social Security benefits is denied?
You have the right to appeal the decision and have your Social Security case reviewed. There are three avenues of appeal: the first is a request for reconsideration of your case; the second is a hearing by an Administrative Law Judge; the third is a review by an Appeals Council. For more information, call 1-800-772-1213.