TN 25 (02-08)

GN 02605.210 United States Absences and the Effect on Benefits

A. Introduction

In general, temporary absences from the United States for less than 6 months have no effect on the payment of Retirement, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (RSDI) benefits.

An absence of more than 3 months requires a change from a domestic address to a foreign address.

The beneficiary who is, was, or will be outside the U.S. for more than 3 months must complete and submit an SSA-21 (Supplement to Claim of Person Outside the United States). The information shown on the SSA-21 is used to complete the post-entitlement screens concerning the change of address, nonresident alien tax withholding, alien nonpayment provisions, and the date the beneficiary left the United States. Additionally, the SSA-21 provides information concerning the beneficiary’s intent to work while outside the United States.

Once the alien beneficiary is outside the U.S. for more than 6 months he/she becomes subject to the Alien Non-Payment Provisions.

See Significance of SSA-21 (GN 00205.180).

B. Taxation of Benefits While Outside the U.S.

The 1983 amendments provided for withholding a tax from benefits paid to certain nonresident aliens.

U.S. citizens are not subject to this taxation of benefits while outside the United States.

The PELF (Alien Tax Update) screen is placed into the pathway when a domestic to foreign change of address is initiated via the post-entitlement PEAD (POS Address/Direct Deposit/Phone) screen. The PELF screen gathers the information that is used to apply taxation to the benefits payable to a beneficiary while he/she is outside the United States.

References

Nonresident Alien Tax Withholding- Table of Contents (GN 05010.000)

Beneficiaries Subject to the Withholding Tax (GN 05010.010)

Determining the Tax Status of a Claimant/Beneficiary Who Is (or Will Be) Outside the U.S. (GN 05010.025)

U.S. Resident Status as an Exception to the Nonresident Alien Withholding Tax (GN 05010.030)

C. Work While Outside the U.S.

Beneficiaries who engage in non-covered work or self-employment and:

  • who are outside the U.S.;

  • work before the month in which they attain FRA, and;

  • work for more than 45 hours in a month;

may be subject to the Foreign Work Test (FWT).

It should be noted that earnings from some activities outside the U.S. are subject to the Annual Earnings Test (AET).

The FWT applies to work performed outside the United States which is not covered by the U.S. Social Security program and, for which differences in the values of foreign currencies make it administratively impractical to apply a test based on the dollar amount of earnings.

References

The Work Tests – Outside the U.S. (RS 02605.001)

Foreign Work Test (RS 02605.005)

The Earnings Test (RS 02501.021)

D. Alien Nonpayment Provisions

According to the alien nonpayment provisions (ANPP), aliens outside the U.S. for 6 consecutive calendar months will not be paid benefits beginning with the 7th month of their absence unless they can meet an exception.

The alien nonpayment provisions are based on Section 202(t) of the Social Security Act and do not apply to citizens or nationals of the United States.

IMPORTANT: The Alien Nonpayment provisions are extremely complex and multi-tiered. Before applying these provisions it will be necessary to fully review the POMS chapter Alien Nonpayment Provisions (RS 02610.000).

The NUSC (Non U.S. Citizen Coding) screen is placed into the pathway when a domestic to foreign change of address is initiated via the post-entitlement PEAD screen. The NUSC screen gathers the information that will be used to apply the alien nonpayment provisions to a beneficiary while he/she is outside the United States.

The LEUS (Left U.S./Outside of U.S.) screen will also be placed into the pathway when a domestic to foreign change of address is initiated via the post-entitlement PEAD screen. The LEUS screen is used to annotate the exact date that the beneficiary left the United States. The RETAP operation automatically selects SSN’s where the LEFT US date is 7 months prior to COM and there is no RETURNED US date. These cases are processed by Title II Redesign, the MBR is evaluated, and the appropriate sus