Can my spouse — a noncitizen — get my Social Security?


Q. I’m a U.S. citizen married to a Canadian. Can my Canadian spouse receive Social Security spousal benefits?
— Spouse

A. We’re glad you’re asking.

It’s smart to understand how Social Security benefits work before you need them.

In most cases, the answer is yes, a noncitizen spouse may qualify, said Bill Connington of Connington Wealth Management in Paramus.

“Foreign spouses generally qualify for Social Security survivor benefits, which are the deceased U.S. worker’s full benefits,” he said. “In the case of dependent or spousal Social Security, a foreign spouse will likely qualify, receiving half of the U.S. spouse’s benefit.”

But there are many rules, he said, such as being at least 62 years old, and residents of Cuba and North Korea, for example, do not qualify.

Your spouse also has to be lawfully in the United States, for which the technical term is having a “lawful presence.”

We recommend you contact Social Security to have a full understanding of the eligibility requirements and what benefits are available based on your personal records.

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This story was originally published on Sept. 14, 2022. presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.