Will My Wife Be Eligible For US Social Security Benefits?

Apr 3 2018 - 11:15am

My wife is Canadian and worked in Canada for 20 years. We married and have lived in the states together for 5 years. She is a permanent resident and might apply for citizenship. I’m 33 and she is 44. Some questions:
1. When she turns retirement age (assuming it will be 62), will she be eligible for US social security?
2) will she be eligible for Canadian social security?
3) when will she be eligible for the spousal benefit?



Your wife would have to work in the U.S. in order to potentially qualify for Social Security (SS) benefits on her own record, but in combination with her work in Canada she could likely qualify with as few as 6 quarters (QC) of US coverage (https://www.ssa.gov/OACT/COLA/QC.html). Normally you must have at least 40 QCs to qualify for SS retirement benefits, but the US has a Totalization agreement with Canada that permits combining credits from both countries in certain cases. For more information on this provision, refer to the following SS publication: https://www.ssa.gov/international/Agreement_Pamphlets/documents/Canada.pdf.

I'm not an expert on the Social Security programs of any countries other than the U.S., so I can't answer questions about your wife's eligibility for Canadian benefits.

Your wife would need to be at least age 62 and you would have to be drawing either SS retirement or disability benefits in order for her to potentially qualify for spousal benefits on your record. And, she would only be eligible for spousal benefits if 50% of your full retirement age rate (PIA) is higher than her own PIA.

Best, Jerry