Some things a widow gets.
And things she probably doesn’t get.
I have a lot of inquiries here on PhilFAQS, where I try to answer questions and solve problems for Foreigners and Filipinos who want to move to, perhaps retire in and live here in the Philippines.
Please Help Me
- 0.1 Please Help Me
- 0.2 These Answers Are Often Complicated. A Few Simplified Facts.
- 0.3 Does My Widow Get Anything?
- 0.4 OK, Fine, I am Entitled, So My Wife Is Too, Correct?
- 0.5 If She Can’t Meet One Of These Conditions, She’s Entitled To Be Paid, But Will Not Get Paid While In The Philippines.
- 0.6 Potential Loophole:
- 0.7 Green Card for a Widow(er) of a U.S. Citizen
- 0.8 Losing a Spouse Can Never Be Pleasant
- 1 Related Posts
- 2 Readers who viewed this page, also viewed:
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A very common question comes from guys who want to know if their wives will be able to get US Social Security benefits if they die before her. Often I get quite sad and plaintive messages from widows of US citizens who never were taught anything by their husbands about US systems, and are often in kind of desperate straits. See also:
These Answers Are Often Complicated. A Few Simplified Facts.
First of all, remember one thing. I’m just a private citizen, I don’t hold myself out to be any sort of expert, and most assuredly, I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice. Personal opinion only.
Also, an important note: I do not discuss benefits for children in this article. It’s another huge subject which needs to be dealt with separately. This article is written strictly from the point of view of a married couple without children,
Does My Widow Get Anything?
Fortunately there’s a very simple answer. Yes, No or Maybe.
To be eligible for any benefits, you (in Social Security terms, “the worker”) must be entitled to Social Security benefits. If you are not n the category of “disabled” this means you must have your “40 quarters” of Social Security employment contributions already recorded with the Social Security Administration.
Normally this means 10 years of employment, but it’s recorded as quarters of a year, becuase you must earn (and contribute) minimum amounts each quarter of a year for the year to “count”. towards your eligibility. Not sure about this? Go to https://www.ssa.gov/ and sign in to (or establish an account with “My Social Security”. All your records are online these days.
Here’s a free tip from Philly. If you are “short” quarters but already not working in the US and living here in the Philippines? Consider working at something on-line as I so often advise. You earn enough per quarter, you pay your self employment Social Security taxes and presto, eventually you’ll have you 40 quarters in.
Bottom line to this first question, if you aren’t entitled to Social Security benefits, she won’t be either.
OK, Fine, I am Entitled, So My Wife Is Too, Correct?
This is where a big “yes or no” issue jumps up. If your wife is otherwise qualified for survivor benefits and she lives here in the Philippines, several “gates” remain for her to pass through.
First of all, she must be 60 years old or older herself. Yeah that means if you wife is, say 40 years old when she dies? She is not getting ANYTHING from Social Security until he 60th birthday. Harsh but true. It’s often called the “widows gap”. It can be a huge chasm for the average couple whose plan for support for the spouse after the husband dies is SSA Widows Benefits.
Secondly, if she lives here in the Philippines she can only get paid if:
- She is a US citizen. or
- She lived in the USA, while married to you, for at least 5 years, or
- She moves to the USA after your death.
If She Can’t Meet One Of These Conditions, She’s Entitled To Be Paid, But Will Not Get Paid While In The Philippines.
Again, a harsh reality of life. Is it discriminatory? Hell yes. Widows who are citizens of many other countries can get paid while they live in their home country. But not the Philippines (and a number of other countries who do not have a Social Security treaty with the US). Lex dura, Sed Lex … in English, the law is harsh, but it is the law.
Please don’t complain to me about it, I didn’t make the law, I only have to live under it. So you better plan accordingly.
One piece of good news in this otherwise kind of depressing article is this.
Notice the third requirement above for receiving pay listed above … If She Moves to the USA after your death?
Given all the hassle a couple has to go through in order for the wife to get a spousal visa to move to the USA when they are married, this seems almost like a cruel joke.
But it’s actually a great benefit under the law. It’s a shame so many Americans and Filipinos don’t seem to know about it.
The widow of a US citzen may apply directly for a US Green Card (within two years of her US citizen husbands death).
This immediately makes her eligible to get paid Social security benefits, to work in the USA, to apply for citizenship after 5 years as well as all the other benefits of Legal Permanent Residents (green card holders).
Green Card for a Widow(er) of a U.S. Citizen
Widows or widowers who were married to U.S. citizens at the time of the citizen’s death may apply for a green card.
Until October 28, 2009, you had to have been married to the deceased citizen for at least two years at the time of the deceased citizen’s death, in order to immigrate as the widow(er) of a citizen. Congress removed this requirement, effective October 28, 2009.
To immigrate as the widow(er) of a citizen, you must prove that you were legally married to the citizen, and that you entered the marriage in good faith, and not solely to obtain an immigration benefit.
Read more on the official USCIS site about Green cars for Widow(er)s here.
Losing a Spouse Can Never Be Pleasant
But at least there’s a path widows can follow to avoid being stranded for years and year with no income after the death of their US citizen husbands.
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