I am from Pakistan. I lived in US from 1981 to 1991 both for education and work. I was on H1 visa for couple of yrs and then attained permanent resident status in 1988. My total work period may be around 5 yrs. I had FICA (Social Security ) deduction for that period. In 1991, I returned to Pakistan on permanent basis and never returned to US even on a short visit.

I am over 61 and according to Social Security Website, one must have at least 10 yrs of work and 62+ age to be qualified for SS retirement benefits. Even when I contact SSA office, then lower staff simply repeat this statement without trying to understand my situation. I am no longer permanent resident (resident alien) or US citizen and I am not intending to do this in future. FICA has deducted sizable amount from my pay check.

I am not interested in long term retirement benefits. All I want is my money that FICA has withheld from my salary to be returned to me. There must be some way to get a refund but unfortunately, the lower staff of SSA does not seem to bother as they mostly deal with routine cases and it is beyond their comprehension that a person living legally in US as permanent resident will ever leave US for good.

I would like some expert opinion on this matter. The routine procedure of SSA may not have any such provision but I want to make this a test case and fight it at all possible forums. I understand that money withheld in US from individuals can not just be appropriated by SSA or another organization without assigning any legal and moral reason.

  • FICA is actually Social Security and Medicare (Part A and some of Advantage only), but with minor differences (like exact age) both work the same way: you pay tax while working and when you get old or permanently disabled if you're still alive and a resident you get benefit. Commented Oct 16, 2016 at 19:11

1 Answer 1


Your SSA payments are not IRA contributions, but they're actually a tax that is earmarked to the Social Security Trust Fund. As such, no, you don't have any "contributions" that can be refunded: you paid a tax, and in exchange for having paid that tax you will possibly later have a benefit.

However, some foreign nationals are able to convey that benefit into their national savings plan. The Social Security Administration has a FAQ page on this particular subject.

Unfortunately for you, Pakistan does not have a bilateral agreement according to their list, so you may be out of luck.

  • Thanks for prompt response. I remember once in December 1990, our company closed for two weeks due to poor business to save on expenses. The Social Security paid us some amount during this period. Where did that money come from? My case seems to be unique in many ways but I will still pursue it to take it some logical end. Thanks again for your time. Commented Oct 15, 2016 at 5:47
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    @RehmatUllahKundi It wasn't Social Security that paid you then, it was Unemployment Insurance. But even if you had received some SS benefits, it would not have come out of your account; you don't have an account with money in it. The money you paid went to everyone who was receiving benefits at the time. It's a tax, not a retirement savings plan.
    – Ben Miller
    Commented Oct 15, 2016 at 11:53

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