If I meet my 40 credit requirement in my 30s, and then left the States permanently and work at another country (and pay taxes there, not to the US), would I receive the full benefits when I become eligible (ie the full corresponding amount for whatever age I am when I start collecting)?


  • 16
    In case you didn't realize, the benefit amount is based on the average of your 35 highest income-earning years
    – mkennedy
    Jan 14, 2015 at 0:39
  • 1
    @mkennedy - a few more words, and you have an answer. You got it right. Jan 14, 2015 at 0:42
  • Does that mean that say if I was to earn 100,000 for 10 years and then I stopped working or moved out of the States, that would become 1,000,000/35 = ~28500 a year? Jan 14, 2015 at 0:42
  • 4
    Social Security should in no way be considered the same as a fixed benefit pension.
    – mkennedy
    Jan 14, 2015 at 0:47
  • 1
    In many cases, Social Security or equivalent from work in a foreign country can be credited to the home country through tax treaties. As for instance I worked in Switzerland for a couple of years, and those earnings show up on my SS earnings records.
    – jamesqf
    Jan 14, 2015 at 19:04

4 Answers 4


Assuming that you qualify for Social Security and it is still around when you are age 67, the biggest problem you will have is that for decades you will have 0 in your annual earnings.

This calculator on the SSA.Gov website will let you enter zero income for future years, you will see what impact that has on your benefits.

Using the default values for a DOB of 6/15/1984 and retiring in July 2051:

Your estimated monthly benefit amount, beginning at age 67 and 1 month in 2051, is $1,555.00. For your estimate, we assumed no future increases in prices or earnings.

After changing future earnings to zero:

Your estimated monthly benefit amount, beginning at age 67 and 1 month in 2051, is $681.00. For your estimate, we assumed no future increases in prices or earnings.

  • Assuming the OP is a U.S. national (a guess) and therefore would be required to file taxes both in the foreign country and in the U.S. each year. Would this not count toward his SSA average?
    – rhaskett
    Nov 20, 2017 at 2:37

As mhoran_psprep pointed out your payment will be pretty low unless you get credit for your foreign work through some sort of treaty. There's a very important aspect to this, though, that would make it a good idea: The same 40 credits qualifies you for medicare. If you're going to retire in the US that's very important, paying out of pocket for Medicare is possible but quite expensive.


The 40 credits thing simply determines eligibility. So, you would be eligible if you earned 40 or more credits. More than 40 doesn't change anything.

Eligible just means you get a check, it doesn't have a bearing on how much that check is for.

For example, let's assume further that you worked for 10 years (minimum to get 40 credits) and earned the average US wage during each of those years. For example, these wage values per year:

2008 41334.97 2009 40711.61 2010 41673.83 2011 42979.61 2012 44321.67 2013 44888.16 2014 46481.52 2015 48098.63 2016 48642.15 2017 50321.89

Then at age 67, you would receive a check for $920 per month in 2019, and this would get adjusted upwards for inflation every year thereafter. This would be true if you earned the average wage in any other set of 10 years.

If instead, you had earned the average wage for 20 years, in 2019 at age 67 your monthly benefit would be $1,347.

So, the answer depends on what you mean by "full benefit".

A useful online tool you can use to play with these calculations and see how it effects your benefit can be found at https://socialsecurity.tools/ I used it to produce these benefit estimates.


Depending on the country you move to, your work there can count toward your maximum credits. See this:https://www.ssa.gov/international/agreements_overview.html#&a0=9

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .