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U.s. Social Security Survivor's Benefits


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#1 TongueThaied

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Posted 2010-03-10 08:38:16

Many of us expat Americans believe that when we die our Thai wives will be eligible for U.S. Social Security Survivor's Benefits the same as would an American wife. This is a mistaken belief.

Some American friends and I have argued over whether: (1) Being married has any impact upon the AMOUNT of monthly entitlement one can expect upon becoming eligible for U.S. Social Security Retirement Benefits; and (2) Whether my Thai wife will be eligible for a U.S. Social Security Benefit as would an American wife.

I thoroughly researched the question at U.S. Social Security online, reading all the fine print, notes and hyperlinks and found the answer to be "no" to both questions. As to the first question, being single, married or divorced has no impact upon the amount of a social security benefit. As to the second question, a non-citizen spouse, living abroad is entitled to a survivor's benefit only if the spouse lived continuously in the United States DURING the relationship creating the entitlement. So, if you and your wife lived in the States continuously for five years or more, she can get it. If not, no way Jose, you take it to the grave.

Some individuals refused to believe it and suspected my research was flawed.

Next, I went to U.S. Social Security online and submitted this electronic query:

Facts: I am 58 years old, married to a Thai citizen. We live in Thailand and intend to do so indefinitely. My Thai spouse has a U.S. tax number so that we can file taxes jointly, but she has never been to the United States and will probably never go to the United States. She has never paid into the Social Security system.

Question One: Does the fact of being single, married or divorced at the time of eligibility for U.S. Social Security Retirement Benefits have any impact on the amount of benefit for which I am eligible?

Question Two: If at the time of my death, I am receiving U.S. Social Security Retirement Benefits, will my spouse be entitled to Survivor's Benefits?

Last week, I received Social Security's response:

From: SSA.Comments@ssa.gov [mailto:SSA.Comments@ssa.gov]
Sent: Wednesday, March 03, 2010 11:58 AM
To: johnnyr4@gmail.com
Subject: Robertson\Response\3742502\Belusko WBDOC 10083\

Thank you for contacting the Social Security Administration.

1) Your benefit amount is the same whether your are married, single or divorced.

2) Unless your spouse is a US citizen or a permanent resident (green card holder) she is not entitled to survivor benefits.

There it is, right from the SSA horse's mouth.

#2 flying

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Posted 2010-03-10 08:47:00

Thank you for contacting the Social Security Administration.

1) Your benefit amount is the same whether your are married, single or divorced.

2) Unless your spouse is a US citizen or a permanent resident (green card holder) she is not entitled to survivor benefits.


Which is one of the good reasons we stay in the US for awhile. :)

Of course the main one being work & we enjoy our place here. My wife also has a good job & is a permanent resident soon to be a US citizen & will enjoy dual citizenship which she looks forward too.

Edited by flying, 2010-03-10 08:48:50.


#3 barryofthailand

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Posted 2010-03-10 08:48:10

Your absolutely correct, although if you are a veteran, your wife would be eligible for VA survivors benefits of $660.00 a month. In Baht that comes to almost 22,000 Baht a month which would be enough for her to live on.
Barry

#4 a2396

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Posted 2010-03-10 08:53:08

I also got the same information. If your wife is or has not resided in USA for 5 years, forget it. She is likely not going to be happy hearing such news. Unfortunately, Thai women ASSUME a lot of things, when getting involved with a foreigner. Most of them have no awareness of all the various financial pitfalls involved and each country of origin (of the man) is different. The women generally have no concept of this.

#5 noise

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Posted 2010-03-10 08:56:37

Since that is true, then anyone married to a Thai who has never lived in the U.S. and has no other pensions or estate had better do some financial planning. And those that do have other pensions, whether they are military, civilian, and/or U.S. government, had better make sure they have their spouses probably designated as beneficiaries.

I know of one case where a widow finally got survivor's pension 8 years after the death of the American husband but did not get anything in arrears. Because of his lack of foresight and planning, she lost 8 years of income.

#6 barryofthailand

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Posted 2010-03-10 09:06:21

Here in Thailand we have several VFW posts that assist when an American Veteran passes away. We have posts in Bangkok, Pattaya, Korat, Udon, and chiangmai. Widows of American veterans, and retired military are all eligible for benefits, even though they never resided in the United States, but are only eligible for Social Security benefits if they resided in the States for five years.
Barry

#7 thaihome

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Posted 2010-03-10 13:08:48

Certainly no surprise to me as it plainly states that on the statement I get from SS every year.

TH

#8 thunder30101

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Posted 2010-03-10 14:59:19

So you think the american taxpayer should pay for someone who has never paid a cent into the system ??? Not with my tax dollars, you bought her now YOU pay for her.

#9 mouse

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Posted 2011-02-15 13:07:24

Here in Thailand we have several VFW posts that assist when an American Veteran passes away. We have posts in Bangkok, Pattaya, Korat, Udon, and chiangmai. Widows of American veterans, and retired military are all eligible for benefits, even though they never resided in the United States, but are only eligible for Social Security benefits if they resided in the States for five years.
Barry


Actually there are a few exception to the 5 year policy. One being that the survivor was married to a Veteran that was 100% disabled due to wounds and or illnesses sustained in a combat environment and that he was 100% disabled. The wife can also receive SS benefits without having been in the US if she cares for minor children born within the marriage.

#10 WarpSpeed

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Posted 2011-02-15 13:17:05

Thank you for contacting the Social Security Administration.

1) Your benefit amount is the same whether your are married, single or divorced.

2) Unless your spouse is a US citizen or a permanent resident (green card holder) she is not entitled to survivor benefits.


Which is one of the good reasons we stay in the US for awhile. :)

Of course the main one being work & we enjoy our place here. My wife also has a good job & is a permanent resident soon to be a US citizen & will enjoy dual citizenship which she looks forward too.

I didn't think Thai's could have dual citizenship? I was under the impression they had to choose one or the other when they got to legal age as children of dual citizens and why should marriage change that?.

#11 villagefarang

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Posted 2011-02-15 13:34:02

Since I won't be expecting any handouts from SS, I'm not upset that my wife won't get any either. ;)

#12 mstribling

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Posted 2011-02-15 17:34:15

Thanks. Good info.

#13 llso

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Posted 2011-02-16 02:13:59

Thanks for posting this
I have had several arguments with people who did not believe this.

I also never heard of a foreign born wife who never lived in the US getting benefits for taking care of a child. I know the child if US Citizen can get benefits,

LL

#14 Puccini

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Posted 2011-02-16 03:03:35

I didn't think Thai's could have dual citizenship? I was under the impression they had to choose one or the other when they got to legal age as children of dual citizens and why should marriage change that?.

A Thai national who acquires another nationality through marriage retains her Thai nationality and can lose it only if she applies to the Ministry of Interior to renounce it and if the Minister approves her request.

Source: Nationality Act B.E. 2508, Section 13, as amended by Nationality Act No. 4 B.E. 2551

A man or woman of Thai nationality who marries an alien and may acquire the nationality of the spouse according to his nationality law shall, if he or she desires to renounce Thai nationality, make a declaration of his or her intention before an official according to the form and in the manner prescribed in the Ministerial Regulations.



#15 mark45y

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Posted 2011-02-16 10:45:12

Since I won't be expecting any handouts from SS, I'm not upset that my wife won't get any either. ;)


If a person has been paying into a social security fund for 40 years every year from every paycheck, paying real cash into a fund for all of his life I would not consider it a hand out to get the money back. What planet do you come from?

#16 ProThaiExpat

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Posted 2011-02-16 11:38:43

For those who want to provide for their loved one upon their death and have no transferable pension benefits, a testamentary trust created by your will in the country where your reserve funds are located is a good way to go in that regard. A few sentences in your will creating the testamentary trust suffices. A monthly benefit, indexed for inflation, payable out of your interest income or out of your actual corpus can be done by your executor for the remaining life of your loved one. Mandating the monthly stipend by wire transfer is the most economical way to a account designated by the beneficiary should be specified.

I have heard "trusts" are not recognized by Thai law so be wary of that and only contemplate this method if your funds are overseas. I am leery of leaving large sums to a Thai loved one for this purpose due to the propensity of many Thais to spend such money, even if through misguided generosity, so a monthly stipend is the approach I used.

Edited by ProThaiExpat, 2011-02-16 11:44:35.


#17 farang000999

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Posted 2011-02-16 16:20:40

ss is a ponzi scheme. none us should expect what we deserve.

#18 villagefarang

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Posted 2011-02-16 17:53:03


Since I won't be expecting any handouts from SS, I'm not upset that my wife won't get any either. ;)


If a person has been paying into a social security fund for 40 years every year from every paycheck, paying real cash into a fund for all of his life I would not consider it a hand out to get the money back. What planet do you come from?

Apparently, a slightly more self-reliant one, than some, but I donít begrudge anyone getting whatever they feel entitled to. :)

#19 F1fanatic

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Posted 2011-02-16 18:05:32

I also got the same information. If your wife is or has not resided in USA for 5 years, forget it. She is likely not going to be happy hearing such news. Unfortunately, Thai women ASSUME a lot of things, when getting involved with a foreigner. Most of them have no awareness of all the various financial pitfalls involved and each country of origin (of the man) is different. The women generally have no concept of this.


Yes, my husband left me less than a year after we retired here to move in his new, local girlfriend.

He died two years later and the girlfriend was adamant that everything was hers... Thai wives of the Western men (that knew my husband - she had no friends of her own) were supporting her in this belief. She clearly was a bit worried though, as she moved our car and anything else of value away from the house.

It came as a nasty shock for her to learn that she was entitled to pretty much nothing, certainly none of the pension - as we had both worked our entire lives together before retiring to Thailand. AND, it took lawyers etc. to be involved before she finally realised the horrible truth (from her POV).

Sorry, I know this is a bit off-topic, but as the previous poster pointed out, local wives assume they will get any pension etc. even though they've never contributed anything towards the originating country. This is not the case, nor should it be.

Edited by F1fanatic, 2011-02-16 18:18:40.


#20 CaptHaddock

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Posted 2011-02-16 18:41:57

ss is a ponzi scheme. none us should expect what we deserve.

Nope. Not even remotely true. In a ponzi scheme the investors all expect to be paid a return on their investments and get their principal back. But that cannot happen because the money has been stolen. Under Social Security, which is an insurance scheme, wage earners pay in to buy insurance that protects them against being old and poor. But, only the survivors can collect. This feature is called the mortality credit. SS only pays you while you are alive.


As long as the US economy grows there will be enough to pay all the promised benefits, including planned increases in real payouts.



#21 mark45y

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Posted 2011-02-16 18:56:21

I treat it as life insurance. I tell my Thai ladies. I die you poor. I live you OK. Seems to motivate. Then I show them a picture of Berlusconi and Ruby. Don't worry if I am happy I live a long time.

#22 villagefarang

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Posted 2011-02-16 19:03:03


ss is a ponzi scheme. none us should expect what we deserve.

Nope. Not even remotely true. In a ponzi scheme the investors all expect to be paid a return on their investments and get their principal back. But that cannot happen because the money has been stolen. Under Social Security, which is an insurance scheme, wage earners pay in to buy insurance that protects them against being old and poor. But, only the survivors can collect. This feature is called the mortality credit. SS only pays you while you are alive.


As long as the US economy grows there will be enough to pay all the promised benefits, including planned increases in real payouts.

The thing is they have already spent everything you paid in, and more. Unless they keep finding four or five newbies to pay for you, the whole thing collapses like a Ponzi scheme.

If you are already old you may luck out but your children wonít be smiling all the way to the bank when their turn comes. The whole scheme is unsustainable. :(

#23 lanny

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Posted 2011-02-16 22:56:54


ss is a ponzi scheme. none us should expect what we deserve.

Nope. Not even remotely true. In a ponzi scheme the investors all expect to be paid a return on their investments and get their principal back. But that cannot happen because the money has been stolen. Under Social Security, which is an insurance scheme, wage earners pay in to buy insurance that protects them against being old and poor. But, only the survivors can collect. This feature is called the mortality credit. SS only pays you while you are alive.


As long as the US economy grows there will be enough to pay all the promised benefits, including planned increases in real payouts.





Social Security is NOT and NEVER WAS an INSURANCE scheme. From the very beginning, back in the 1930s it was intended as a pay as you go plan; that is, current workers would pay enough to cover the benefits of those who had retired. Nobody at that time anticipated the baby boom that followed WWII. We are going from a society where the employed out numbered the retired to one where the opposite is true.

Following the defeat of Barry Goldwater in 1964, largely because he was perceived to be advocating a cut in SS benefits, no politician who has any desire to be re-elected wants to be seen as voting against social security. To do so would be political suicide. In 1964 the senior segment of the population was already politically potent; in the 40-plus years since, that element has grown much more powerful. So, social security will not go away but will have to be reworked to cover the growing benefits.

#24 mogoso

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Posted 2011-02-16 23:50:40


Actually there are a few exception to the 5 year policy. One being that the survivor was married to a Veteran that was 100% disabled due to wounds and or illnesses sustained in a combat environment and that he was 100% disabled. The wife can also receive SS benefits without having been in the US if she cares for minor children born within the marriage.
[/quote


If you read the application www,vba.va.gov/pubs/forms/VBA-21-534-ARE.pdf
The rules have two parts
!. A veterans death occurred in service
A veteran dies of a service connected disability or
in certain circumstances if a veteran is rated totally disabled from service connected disability dies from non-service- connected disabilities
2 Death pension may be payable when
The death of a veteran with wartime service is not due to service and
income is within applicable limits

Income is a factor to receive benefits and in number 2 the key word is "may"

#25 SGD

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Posted 2011-02-17 21:49:53

So the answer would seem to be to educate her that if you do actually pass away, she should simply bury you in the back yard and keep collecting your pension from the ATM. You would of course have to verse her in how to obtain a new ATM card or more simply, have the pension paid into a Thai joint account. :)





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