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Relinquishing Your Green Card and How It May Affect Your Social Security Eligibility

You’ve been living and working in the U.S. for years under Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) status, and now want to move back to your country of origin. While living and working in the U.S., you were paying into, and maybe even collecting, depending on your age, the government’s social security benefits. When you relinquish your Green Card and your Permanent Resident Status, many individuals wonder whether they can keep collecting on their social security payments. In short, it depends on what country you are returning to, but for the most part, you are still eligible to receive your benefits, just with differing tax structures. 

To begin collecting social security benefits, you must be at least 62 years old and have worked in the U.S. and paid towards social security for at least 40 quarters (around ten years’ time). According to the Social Security Administration, relinquishing your Green Card does not change your eligibility for collecting your benefits for the most part. Once your status has been relinquished and you have moved to your intended country, the government classifies you as a non-resident alien (NRA) and you are subject to the rules governing non-resident aliens.

As an NRA, 85% of your U.S. social security benefits are subject to a flat 30% tax from the U.S. government. To avoid double taxation on your benefits from both the U.S. and your country of residence, the U.S. and 30 countries have signed “totalization treaties”, ensuring that there are no double taxation issues when it comes to your benefits. The countries with totalization treaties are:

  • Italy
  • Germany
  • Switzerland
  • Belgium
  • Norway
  • Canada
  • United Kingdom
  • Sweden
  • Spain
  • France
  • Portugal
  • Netherlands
  • Austria
  • Finland
  • Ireland
  • Luxembourg
  • Greece
  • South Korea
  • Chile
  • Australia
  • Japan
  • Denmark
  • Czech Republic
  • Poland
  • Slovak Republic
  • Hungary
  • Brazil
  • Uruguay
  • Slovenia
  • Iceland

Should you reside in any of the countries in this list, you will have no problems collecting your U.S. Social Security Benefits and will again avoid the double taxation issues some countries have where both the U.S. and the country you reside in will tax your benefits. While generally most individuals who relinquish their Green Cards are still eligible to collect their benefits, this is not always the case. It is important to note that you must check your specific country’s status with the U.S. government and its policies on collecting U.S. social security. Each country varies from the next and it is important to remember that every case is not the same, so you must do your own research

Below are some helpful links and tools that you can use to check your country’s social security eligibility conditions, read over the U.S. government’s policies and treaties with other nations, and examine the rules for NRAs collecting U.S. benefits abroad. Be sure to subscribe to Berardi Immigration Law’s social media channels to stay up to date on all the latest immigration related news!

Foreign Countries with U.S. Social Security Eligibility: International Programs – Payments Outside the United States (

Social Security Administration’s International Operations home page: Service Around the World – Office of Earnings & International Operations (

Rules for Nonresident Aliens Outlined By the IRS: Nonresident Aliens | Internal Revenue Service (