Social Security Valid After Giving Up Citizenship


Inquiries about the validity of Social Security payments for those who give up their American citizenships or green cards are increasing by the year. The Korea Daily met with US Social Security Administration to review some of the major details.

-When can one start receiving Social Security benefits?
Social Security allows you to earn one credit point for earning at least $1,260 in a year. The maximum you can earn in a year is four credit points. To receive Social Security benefits, you must have an accumulated total of 40 credit points. On average, most people are eligible to earn Social Security benefits after 10 years since they’ve been making the payments.

-I’ve been working for 10 years. Could I get a refund if I give up my American citizenship or green card?
An immediate refund in full is impossible, but returning to Korea after giving up your citizenship or green card still makes you eligible for benefits. You must still report your Social Security payment details via Social Security website or through the South Korean consulate office. Benefits become available to you when you turn 62.

-What is the amount of Social Security I receive if I return to Korea permanently?
Assuming that you’ve accumulated 40 credit points, you can begin earning 75 percent of the early retirement funds after you turn 62. However, there is a 30 percent tax rate on foreign beneficiaries as they’re counted as non-residents.

-How about those who reside in Korea after they turn 62?
Eligible American citizens can earn benefits regardless of where they reside. However, Medicare is not available to those who live outside of the U.S.

-What if I return to Korea before making my Social Security payments for 10 years?
The U.S. government signed an agreement with South Korea in April 2001, which enables you to merge your Social Security payments with the Korean national pension. The payments you’ve made in either country can be added onto whichever one. You can simply add your Social Security payment to your national pension in Korea.

-In Korea, a citizen who lives outside of the country can immediately receive full refund when he or she becomes a holder of a green card in a foreign country.
The policies are different in Korea and the U.S. In the U.S., an immediate refund in full amount is not possible.

By Hyoung Jae Kim