SSR 78-12: Section 202(t)—Nonpayment of Benefits—Alien Beneficiaries Outside the United States
20 CFR 404.460 and 404.463
(THIS RULING SUPERSEDES SSR 77-15, C.B. 1977, p. 64)
Whether alien persons otherwise entitled to retirement, survivors, and disability benefits under sections 202 and 223 of the Act may be paid such benefits for months in which they are outside the United States, depends upon several factors, including their citizenship status and the countries in which they reside. This ruling summarizes the provisions of section 202(t) of the Social Security Act, as amended, concerning restrictions on payment of benefits to alien beneficiaries outside the United States. It also lists the countries which have been found, as of December 31, 1977, to meet the requirements of section 202(t)(2)(A) and (B); the countries which do not meet the requirements of section 202(t)(2)(A), and the countries which meet the requirements of section 202(t)(2)(A) only.
Citizens or nationals of the United States otherwise entitled to retirement, survivors, or disability insurance benefits under sections 202 and 223 of the Social Security Act may continue to receive their benefits while outside the United States, subject generally to the same conditions as beneficiaries who are in the United States, and subject further to the provisions of sections 203(c) and (d) of the Social Security Act (concerning deductions which may be required for noncovered remunerative activity outside the United States) and to regulations of the Department of the Treasury governing the payment of U.S. checks and warrants abroad.
However, whether benefits are payable to alien beneficiaries outside the United States (including persons who have lost or given up their United States citizenship) depends, in addition, on the applicability of the alien nonpayment provisions contained in section 202(t) of the Act, as amended.
ALIEN NONPAYMENT PROVISIONS
Section 202(t) of the Act provides in effect that, subject to exceptions discussed below, monthly retirement, survivors, and disability insurance benefits may not be paid to an alien beneficiary for any month which occurs (1) after he has been outside the United States throughout 6 consecutive calendar months and (2) before the first calendar month throughout which he has been in the United States. For purposes of the preceding sentence, after an alien beneficiary is outside the United States for any period of 30 consecutive days, he is deemed to be "outside the United States" continuously, until he has returned to and remained in the United States for 30 consecutive days. Thus, an alien beneficiary who meets none of the exceptions must either return to the United States at least every 30 days, or for 30 consecutive days during each 6-month period, in order to continue to draw benefits.
No lump-sum death payment may be made on the earnings record of an alien worker who dies outside the United States if that worker could not by reason of section 202(t) be paid benefits for the month before the month of his death.
Section 202(t)(10) of the Act provides that, notwithstanding any other provision of title II, benefits will not be paid to an alien for any month beginning July 1968 in which he resides in a country to which the mailing of U.S. Government checks has been prohibited by the Treasury Department pursuant to the Act of October 9, 1940 (31 U.S.C. 123). Such prohibition is currently in effect in the following areas:
|People's Republic of Albania||Democratic Republic of Vietnam|
(Formerly People's Republic of China)
|Republic of South Vietnam|
|German Democratic Republic|
|Republic of China||Soviet Sector of Berlin, Germany|
|Democratic People's Republic of Korea|
The Social Security Amendments of 1967 (P.L. 90-248, sec. 162(c)(3) provide (in the case of an alien residing in a restricted country) that payment of any accrued benefits which are being withheld by the Treasury Department on June 30, 1968, may not exceed an amount equivalent to the last 12 months' benefits. Such payment may be made only to the entitled individual, or if he is deceased, only to a person entitled to monthly benefits on the same earnings record as the deceased for the month in which he died. In no case can such payments be made until the payee is in an unrestricted area.
EXCEPTIONS TO ALIEN NONPAYMENT PROVISIONS
An alien beneficiary may, however, receive his benefits no matter how long he remains outside the United States, if section 202(t)(10) above is not applicable, and any one of the following exceptions is met:
The beneficiary was, or could upon filing application have become, entitled on the same earnings record to a monthly benefit for December 1956, under section 202 of the Act; or
The worker on whose earnings record the benefit is based had been in service covered by the Railroad Retirement Act which was treated as employment covered by the Social Security Act pursuant to section 5(k)(1) of the Railroad Retirement Act; or
The beneficiary is outside the United States while in the active military or naval service of the United States; or
The beneficiary is entitled as a survivor on the earnings record of a worker who either (1) died while in the military service of the United States, or (2) died as the result of a disease or injury incurred or aggravated in the military service of the United States and he was discharged or released from such service under conditions other than dishonorable; or
The withholding of benefits would be contrary to an existing treaty obligation in effect on August 1, 1956, between the United States and the country of which the beneficiary is a citizen.
The Secretary has determined that the Treaties of Friendship, Commerce, and Navigation between the United States and the following eight countries constitute "treaty obligations" within the meaning of exception (E) above:
Germany, Federal Republic of
(with respect to survivors benefits only)
Greece Italy Nicaragua Ireland Japan
The effect of this determination is that alien beneficiaries who are citizens of these countries will not be denied the benefits for which they are qualified (subject to the limitations noted with respect to the Netherlands), regardless of the duration of their absence from the United States.
The beneficiary is a citizen of a country which the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare has found to have in effect a social insurance or pension system of general application which pays periodic benefits (or their actuarial equivalent) on account of old age, retirement, or death (sec. 202(t)(2)(A)) and such benefits are payable without restriction to otherwise eligible citizens of the United States while outside the country, regardless of the duration of their absence (sec. 202(t)(2)(B)); or
The worker on whose earnings record the benefit is based either resided in the United States for a period or periods of time aggregating 10 years or more or acquired at least 40 quarters of coverage under the Social Security Act before the month for which the benefit is payable.
Under section 20(t)(4) of the Act, however, exception (G) above is not available for any month after June 30, 1968, to an alien outside the United Stats who is a citizen of a country which (1) had in effect a social insurance or pension system of general application which pay periodic old-age, retirement, or death benefits, but does not pay such benefits to otherwise qualified U.S. citizens while outside the country; or (2) has no social insurance or pension system of general application, if at any time within 5 years prior to January 1968 (or the first month thereafter for which his benefits are subject to suspension because of absence from the United States), payments to individuals residing in that country were withheld by the Treasury Department under the Act of October 9, 1940 (31 U.S.C. 123) referred to supra.
LIST OF COUNTRIES ON WHICH DETERMINATIONS HAVE BEEN MADE
To date, the Secretary has made the following determinations under exception (F) above, notices of which have been published in the Federal Register. As additional determinations are made, they will also be published in the Federal Register:
List 1.—Countries Which Have Social Insurance or Pension Systems Qualifying Under Section 202(t)(A) and (B)
|Argentina (effective July 1968)||Malta (beg. Sept. 1964)|
|Austria (except from January 1958 through June 1961)||Mexico (beg. March 1968)|
|Barbados (beg. July 1968)||Monaco|
|Belgium (beg. July 1968)||Netherlands (beg. July 1968) [*]|
|Bolivia||Norway (beg. June 1968)|
|Bulgaria (effective February 1971)||Peru (beg. Feb. 1969)|
|Canada (beg. Jan. 1966)||Philippines (beg. June 1960)|
|Chile||Poland (beg. March 1957)|
|Colombia (beg. Jan. 1967)||Portugal (beg. May 1968)|
|Costa Rica (beg. May 1962)||San Marino (beg. Jan. 1965)|
|Cyprus (beg. Oct. 1964)||Spain (beg. May 1966)|
|Czechoslovakia (beg. July 1968)||Sweden (beg. July 1966)|
|Denmark (beg. April 1964)||Switzerland (beg. July 1968)|
|Ecuador||Trinidad and Tobago (beg. July 1975)|
|El Salvador (beg. Jan. 1969)||Trust Territories of the Pacific (Micronesia)|
|Finland (beg. May 1968)||Turkey|
|France (beg. June 1968)||United Kingdom|
|Gabon (beg. June 1964)||Upper Volta (beg. Oct. 1960)|
|Guyana (effective September 1969)||Western Samoa (beg. Aug. 1972)|
|Jamaica (beg. July 1968)||Zaire (effective July 1961) (formerly Congo Kinshasia)|
|Liechtenstein (effective July 1968)|
The effect of inclusion under List 1 is that, beginning January 1957, unless otherwise specified, beneficiaries who are citizens of such countries may be paid regardless of the duration of their absence from the United States.
List 2.—Countries Which Have No Social Insurance or Pension Systems Qualifying Under Section 202(t)(2)(A)
|Cameroon||Kenya||South Africa, Republic of|
|Chad||Korea (South)||Sri Lanka (Formerly Ceylon)|
|China, Republic of (Taiwan)||Laos||Sudan|
|Democratic Kampuchea (Formerly Cambodia)||Lesotho||Tanzania|
|Grenada and the Grenadines||Nepal||Yemen|
The effect of inclusion under List 2 is that citizens of such countries may not receive benefits while outside the United States (under the conditions set out in the third paragraph of this ruling), unless they can qualify under one of the following exceptions: (A), (B), (C), (D), or (G) above.
List 3.—Countries Which Have Social Insurance or Pension System Which Meets Requirements of Section 202(t)(2)(A) ONLY
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
(Incl: Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania)
The effect of inclusion under List 3 is that citizens of such countries may not receive benefits while outside the United States (under the conditions set out in the third paragraph of this ruling) unless they can qualify under one of the following exceptions: (A), (B), (C), (D), above, or with respect to benefits for months before July 1968, under exception (G) above.
[*] Prior to this date, alien beneficiaries who were citizens of the Netherlands could, under the "treaty obligation exception" in section 202(t)(3) of the Act, receive only survivor benefits while outside the United States.