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Social Security for wife
Old 02-25-2013, 05:48 PM   #1
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Social Security for wife

Haven't been on the site in quite a while. Just coming up on 2 years of retirement from teaching (55 years old now). After going through a huge pain to get my British wife here (Spokane area) there is a chance in the future that we may move back to N England to be near her family. One of the reasons we moved here (other than better weather) was that she would be eligible for spousal benefits on SS. As long as she was married to me and lived here for at least 5 years before she hit 62 she was ok. Now....we may move back in 5 years or so....and it suddenly hit my wife that if she picked up her dual citizenship in the next few years, would she be able to draw that spousal SS if we moved back to the UK in 5+ years?
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Old 02-25-2013, 05:55 PM   #2
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Did you pay into SS as a teacher in Washington? Some teachers do, some don't.
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Old 02-25-2013, 06:00 PM   #3
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Did almost all my teaching out of the country for the military schools. SS is estimated at a little under $1400 a month right now....don't plan on working anymore.
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Old 02-26-2013, 12:07 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by F4mandolin View Post
Haven't been on the site in quite a while. Just coming up on 2 years of retirement from teaching (55 years old now). After going through a huge pain to get my British wife here (Spokane area) there is a chance in the future that we may move back to N England to be near her family. One of the reasons we moved here (other than better weather) was that she would be eligible for spousal benefits on SS. As long as she was married to me and lived here for at least 5 years before she hit 62 she was ok. Now....we may move back in 5 years or so....and it suddenly hit my wife that if she picked up her dual citizenship in the next few years, would she be able to draw that spousal SS if we moved back to the UK in 5+ years?
Personally, I think this questions merits a call to the SS office. They are usually quite helpful. They don't always know everything, but they can hopefully answer this question.

I would never recommend taking the spousal benefit before full retirement age, especially with your lower benefit you need to probably wait as long as you can as well.

fd
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Old 02-26-2013, 09:21 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by F4mandolin View Post
Haven't been on the site in quite a while. Just coming up on 2 years of retirement from teaching (55 years old now). After going through a huge pain to get my British wife here (Spokane area) there is a chance in the future that we may move back to N England to be near her family. One of the reasons we moved here (other than better weather) was that she would be eligible for spousal benefits on SS. As long as she was married to me and lived here for at least 5 years before she hit 62 she was ok. Now....we may move back in 5 years or so....and it suddenly hit my wife that if she picked up her dual citizenship in the next few years, would she be able to draw that spousal SS if we moved back to the UK in 5+ years?
Your wife will continue to recieve SS spousal benefits when you return to the United Kingdom.

In fact, since the UK is one of the very few countries the US has a Social Security Agreement with, your wife will not need live in the US for 5 years.

Social Security Publications

Scroll to: Additional residency requirements for dependents and survivors

The last paragraph reads: The residency requirement will not apply to you if you meet any of the following conditions:

The fourth bullet point reads: You are a resident of one of the countries with which the United States has a social security agreement in Country List 3.

If you click on Country List 3, you will find the UK listed. Your wife need not have US Citizenship in order to recieve the benefit.
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Old 02-26-2013, 08:41 PM   #6
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Thanks. Seems a little strange to us. I had thought she had to spend the 5 years here first....at least as I understood it. But those SS paragraphs do make it sound like she would be eligible here without the 5 years since she was a UK citizen (and on the list)...and would get it IF we go back eventually. Might just have to go talk to the SS office and see what they say. I do plan on putting off SS for a short time to increase my wife's 50% amount as well.....but don't think our savings would let us go very long. I am currently 55 (wife 52). I have a SS supplement starting this summer (when I turn 56) since I took VERA almost 2 years ago. Current pension take home is less than $1000 per month. We have almost $800k split between TSP + Edward Jones accounts. Not planning on giving EJones any more of my money (although they are trying hard) and would rather stick it in something like Vanguard Wellington or similar.
Thanks again for that SS link.......
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Old 02-26-2013, 08:56 PM   #7
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F4, it appears to me you need to pay a visit to your local SS office and get a definitive answer to your situation.
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Old 02-27-2013, 12:12 AM   #8
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F4, it appears to me you need to pay a visit to your local SS office and get a definitive answer to your situation.
I agree, this is too serious a position to leave it too some verbiage on a website. Get at least two opinions, and then also remember until she actually gets her first check the rules CAN change.

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Old 02-27-2013, 05:03 AM   #9
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Thanks. Seems a little strange to us. I had thought she had to spend the 5 years here first....at least as I understood it. But those SS paragraphs do make it sound like she would be eligible here without the 5 years since she was a UK citizen (and on the list)...and would get it IF we go back eventually. Might just have to go talk to the SS office and see what they say.
If you wish to obtain an accurate confirmation to the above information, you may want to consider one of the following contacts:

"If you don't wish to file a claim for benefits but would like more information about the agreement, write to:"
Social Security Administration
Office of International Programs
P.O. Box 17741
Baltimore, Maryland 21235-7741
U.S.A.

Or:

Federal Benefits Unit
American Embassy
Box 0005
W1A 2LQ London
England
Phone: 44-20-7499-9000
(8:30 - 1:00)
Fax: 44-20-7495-7200
Email: FBU.London@ssa.gov

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Old 02-27-2013, 01:57 PM   #10
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the OAP- thanks again. I will probably head down to the SS office in the near future. I would have anyway at some point. But there is no big hurry since this will be at least 3 years in the future...if not further before the choice has to be made. But as with the problems we had just getting through US customs getting my wife here.. I got some good hints here a couple of years ago that helped with the process. Help that didn't come with dealing with the Customs/Immigration folks.

FinancialDave- Even I (and I have done some pretty stupid things) am not silly enough to take comments on this site as fact without further checking.
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Old 03-01-2013, 10:05 PM   #11
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Do you have any tax-deferred retirement accounts that you expect your wife to inherit? If so, the IRS treatment of your wife's inheriting them would be much more favorable if she were a US citizen than if she remains an alien.
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Old 03-02-2013, 02:44 AM   #12
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Wife has a very small pension coming in from a divorce settlement at 60 (8 more years), probably around $1500-2000 a year. Also her UK pension kicks in at 65 (unless they change that again) which should be around $7k a year. Nothing else on her side that isn't already in our joint account. I had been told when fighting through the immigration issues that it would probably be a good idea for her to pick up the US citizenship if we stay here....if nothing else it makes it easier for her if I get hit in the head by a golf ball or something and has to close out accounts. That's another reason to head back to the UK at some point...she is worried that if I did drop dead it would be hell for her.
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Old 03-02-2013, 07:33 PM   #13
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Wife has a very small pension coming in from a divorce settlement at 60 (8 more years), probably around $1500-2000 a year. Also her UK pension kicks in at 65 (unless they change that again) which should be around $7k a year. Nothing else on her side that isn't already in our joint account. I had been told when fighting through the immigration issues that it would probably be a good idea for her to pick up the US citizenship if we stay here....if nothing else it makes it easier for her if I get hit in the head by a golf ball or something and has to close out accounts. That's another reason to head back to the UK at some point...she is worried that if I did drop dead it would be hell for her.
Actually, if you expect to move out of the US, it could be a reason to get US citizenship, because getting back in at some point would be difficult or impossible otherwise. The big drawback, as you know, is lifelong tax liability on worldwide income.
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Old 03-02-2013, 08:16 PM   #14
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Actually.....good point on checking on the taxes.....I hadn't thought about it yet. I am not aware of the rules. From working for the US Govt (civ)for almost 30 years overseas....always just paid US taxes. Banks were always on Military bases so no issues there as well. Is there a good site to look up the tax issues? IRS?
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Old 03-02-2013, 08:20 PM   #15
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Actually.....good point on checking on the taxes.....I hadn't thought about it yet. I am not aware of the rules. From working for the US Govt (civ)for almost 30 years overseas....always just paid US taxes. Banks were always on Military bases so no issues there as well. Is there a good site to look up the tax issues? IRS?
The best forum on taxes is fairmark.com. They also have some reference material and some books for sale. The people on the forum are very knowledgeable about US taxes.
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Old 03-02-2013, 08:47 PM   #16
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Thanks. I might see if I can get hold of some old friends who retired there after they were done teaching for the Govt. I just took a quick look at Fairmark....need to dig a bit I guess. They seem to have a forum. All of this is still at least 3 years in the future....but I have the time to do it now so I might as well get off my butt, it could turn out that it just isn't financially smart/possible for us to go that direction.
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Old 03-03-2013, 05:46 AM   #17
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Actually.....good point on checking on the taxes.....I hadn't thought about it yet. I am not aware of the rules. From working for the US Govt (civ)for almost 30 years overseas....always just paid US taxes. Banks were always on Military bases so no issues there as well. Is there a good site to look up the tax issues? IRS?
As a US citizen, you will file a US tax form yearly, no matter which country you live in. If you're resident in the UK, you will also likely file a UK tax return.

I realise you are only in the 'what if' stage, but unless you are a UK citizen, the first obstacle you would need to navigate is a UK 'spouse visa' for yourself. Obtaining the visa may not be as easy as one may imagine. Your wife, as a UK citizen, will of course have no problems returning to the UK.

The following site, uk-yankee, may answer many of your questions. It has both a visa forum and a tax forum. Whilst any information given on a public forum should be treated as highly suspect, you would have a better idea of where and what to start investigating. Some of the contributors to the tax section are qualified US/UK tax professionals. I know this may be a controversial statement, but much of the advice given, both on forums or by uninformed professionals, within the US concerning international issues (be they Social Security or taxes) prove to be inaccurate.

UK Yankee | Expat Americans in the UK
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Old 03-03-2013, 02:22 PM   #18
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Thanks....I saw the UK Yankee site, think you need to pay some $ to join(oops, no I didn't)....but seems ok. After the fiasco of going through the hell of getting my wife here in the first place....I don't believe much of anything I see about procedures now. THAT was a confusing and frustrating couple of years. I think we would probably be ok going back though. We don't have a ton of money, but would have enough to buy a small house (200k range) and set things up and still have maybe 300k in funds plus my pension and eventually her small one. Just checking into right now....IFFF we ever go back, still at least 3-5 years. Some of this depends on what her kids end up doing. Youngest daughter just started her nursing career in Oct.....but is threatening to move to Australia. Don't blame her, the weather has been terrible in N Yorkshire these last few years.

Appreciate the help.....
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