Logo_Horizontal white

Do immigrants qualify for Social Security benefits at the age of 65?


The easiest answer is Yes! This guide will break down the key information to know if you qualify and understand if you will be eligible when you retire.

If you worked in the U.S. and paid into Social Security during your employment years, you are entitled to receive retirement aid regardless of citizenship status. This federal program is for retired adults, people with disabilities, and their children and spouses. 

Who is eligible:

Legal immigrants 

• Starting from 62, with a benefit reduction, and until full retirement age of 67, U.S. citizens with sufficient earnings qualify for social security benefits. 

• Full coverage is based on accumulating 40 credits or quarters. A worker can collect up to 4 credits each year. For example, you receive one credit for every $1,640 in earnings for 2023 ($1,510 in 2022); this number is adjusted annually due to inflation.  

• If you are a U.S. citizen who worked overseas and earned credits abroad, you are eligible for a Totalization Agreement.

What is a Totalization Agreement:

A Totalization Agreement allows U.S. citizens to combine work credits from the U.S. and other countries. 

Totalization Agreements protect the benefit rights of those who have worked professionally abroad. The U.S. has agreements with several countries which are meant to avoid double taxation. These are Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and Uruguay.

Suppose you qualify for the totalization agreement based on combined and U.S. coverage. In that case, the amount is proportional to the time worked in the U.S., and the treaty country similarly pays a partial or prorated benefit. 

If you come to the U.S. after retirement and have not worked for ten consecutive years before that, there are options for you too! You can take a job for one and a half years after arriving to receive prorated U.S. Social Security Benefits. 

Immigrants who retire or live abroad are also eligible for Social Security distributions. Also, if you’re the spouse of a fully insured worker, Social Security will provide benefits for you too. The highest marital aid is half the insured amount your spouse is entitled to at their full retirement age.

Note that, if needed, you can collect retirement benefits at 62. However, by doing so, the amount is reduced to compensate for earlier benefits that will probably last for an extended period. If, on the other hand, you decide to delay your retirement benefits, these will increase, but you’re only allowed to delay benefits until you turn 70.  

Non-Citizens (Qualified Alien)

According to the Social Security Administration, non-citizens who meet one of these conditions and who worked in the U.S. are eligible to receive Social Security benefits:

1. Lawfully Admitted for Permanent Residents (LAPR) in the U.S., including “Amerasian immigrants.”

2. People who were granted conditional entry under Section 203(a)(7) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) as in effect before April 1, 1980.

3. People who were paroled into the U.S. under Section 212(d)(5) of the INA for at least one year.

4. Refugees who were admitted to the U.S. under Section 207 of the INA.

5. People who were granted asylum under Section 208 of the INA.

6. People whose deportation proceedings are being withheld under Section 243(h) of the INA, as in effect before April 1, 1997, or removal is being withheld under Section 241(b)(3) of the INA.

7. A “Cuban and Haitian entrant” as defined in Section 501(e) of the Refugee Education Assistance Act of 1980 or in a status that is to be treated as a “Cuban/ Haitian entrant.”

Some other exceptional circumstances may apply to be a qualified alien, like if you, your parent, or your child were subjected to extreme cruelty by a family member while in the U.S. 

How to Apply 

Eligible candidates must apply by calling: 1 800 772 1213 (8 am – 7 pm Monday through Friday) or online at Here:

What you need for your application:

• Employer names and dates for the past two years

• Self-employment income and type of business

• Bank Information to set up your direct deposit

• Dates of current and previous marriages and where you were married

• U.S. military service dates and branches

• Family members who may qualify to receive benefits on your record 

• Have your documents at hand: 

– Original birth certificate (or other proof of age)

– Proof of U.S. citizenship

– Copy of your W-2 tax form(s) and/or self-employment tax return from last year

– Copy of your U.S. military service papers if you served before 1968.

What to read next