TN 13 (06-18)

RS 02640.001 Determining Country of Citizenship for Payments Outside the United States

A. Determining country of citizenship for payments outside the United States

Determining a claimant or beneficiary’s country of citizenship is important when making certain eligibility decisions affecting benefit payments outside the United States. SSA routinely obtains citizenship information on iClaims applications and on Form SSA-21, Supplement to Claim of Person Outside the United States. A person’s citizenship can affect:

  • whether payments can continue beyond the general six month limitation on benefits to non-U.S. citizens outside the United States under the Alien Nonpayment Provision (ANP); and

  • if Nonresident Alien Tax withholding applies.

1. U.S. citizenship determinations for payments outside the United States

It is important to determine whether a person has U.S. citizenship because U.S. citizens are not subject to the ANP or to the withholding of Nonresident Alien Tax. We require proof of U.S. citizenship if it affects payment eligibility. Often, U.S. citizenship is established and proof recorded on the Master Beneficiary Record at the time SSA awards benefits. For information on establishing U.S. citizenship and the tolerance rules for evidence, see GN 00303.300 and GN 00303.320. For information on events that may indicate a loss of U.S. citizenship and the need for additional action, see GN 00303.200.

2. Foreign citizenship determinations for payments outside the United States

It is important to determine a non-U.S. citizen’s foreign country of citizenship because it may provide a citizenship exception to the ANP. For information on exceptions to the ANP based on a person’s foreign country of citizenship, see RS 02610.015.

We require proof of a person’s current foreign citizenship if that citizenship affects payment eligibility under the ANP, including eligibility for the Lump Sum Death Payment. For more information on the foreign country of citizenship and establishing a citizenship exception under the ANP, see RS 02640.020.

B. Dual citizenship and payments outside the United States

Dual citizenship means a person is a citizen of more than one country. Claimants and beneficiaries often claim citizenship of the United States and at least one other country. A person who is currently a U.S. citizen is not subject to the ANP or to the withholding of Nonresident Alien Tax regardless of dual citizenship status.

The automatic acquisition or retention of foreign citizenship does not affect U.S. citizenship status. Some countries, for example Israel and Germany, allow automatic acquisition of citizenship for specific persons under a “law of return,” i.e., a right of return to the homeland.

Many foreign countries allow the retention of citizenship when a person obtains citizenship from another country by marriage, naturalization, etc. However, some countries do not allow the person to retain citizenship or only allow it under certain conditions. Therefore, we require current proof of the foreign citizenship that provides a citizenship exception to the ANP in dual foreign citizenship situations.

NOTE: Some situations involving alleged U.S. dual citizenship require additional information such as how the person obtained the foreign citizenship. As explained in GN 00303.200.B, this may require that we verify the person’s current U.S. citizenship status.

C. Instructions for obtaining proof in dual citizenship situations

For ANP and Nonresident Alien Tax withholding purposes, when a person alleges current dual citizenship, the following rules apply.

  • If the person claims foreign and U.S. citizenship, we require proof of U.S. citizenship.

  • If the person claims to be a citizen of two foreign countries:

    • We require current proof of the citizenship that provides payment eligibility;

    • If citizenship of both foreign countries provides payment eligibility, proof of current citizenship of either country is acceptable. However, if development for current citizenship status is necessary, request proof of the most recent citizenship the person acquired;

    • If citizenship of neither country provides payment eligibility, we require no proof.

D. Examples showing when we require proof in dual citizenship situations

1. Proof of U.S. citizenship required for ANP and Nonresident Alien Tax withholding – U.S. citizen Number Holder (NH)

A NH who was born in Argentina reports she is an Argentinian citizen and a U.S. citizen. She is residing in Argentina.

As an Argentinian citizen, the NH would meet the social insurance citizenship exception to the ANP, but would be subject to Nonresident Alien Withholding tax since she resides in Argentina. However, as a U.S. citizen, she is not subject to either the ANP or Nonresident Alien Tax withholding.

Decision: We require proof of U.S. citizenship.

2. Proof of U.S. citizenship required for ANP and Nonresident Alien Tax withholding – U.S. citizen NH

A NH who was born in India reports he is an Indian citizen and a U.S. citizen. He is residing in Canada.

As a U.S. citizen, the NH is not subject to either the ANP or Nonresident Alien Tax withholding.

Decision: We require proof of U.S. citizenship.

NOTE: U.S. citizenship takes precedence over any citizenship exception to the ANP or any exemption from Alien Tax Withholding due to a U.S. income tax treaty.

3. Proof of foreign citizenship required for the ANP – Non-U.S. citizen NH

A NH who was born in Italy reports he is a citizen of Italy and Estonia. He is residing in Estonia.

As a citizen of Estonia, he would not meet a citizenship exception to the ANP. However, as a citizen of Italy, he would meet the social insurance citizenship exception to the ANP.

As an alien and resident of Estonia, he would be subject to Nonresident Alien Tax withholding.

Decision: We require current proof of Italian citizenship.

4. Proof of foreign citizenship required for the ANP - Non-U.S. citizen NH

A NH who was born in Nicaragua reports he is a citizen of Nicaragua and a citizen of Costa Rica. He is residing in Costa Rica.

As a citizen of Nicaragua, he would meet the social insurance citizenship exception to the ANP. As a citizen of Costa Rica, he would also meet the social insurance citizenship exception to the ANP.

As an alien and a resident of Costa Rica, he is subject to Nonresident Alien Tax withholding.

Decision: If there is no proof of current citizenship of either country in file, develop for current proof of Costa Rican citizenship, the most recent citizenship the NH acquired.

5. Proof of foreign citizenship required for the ANP – Non-U.S. citizen spouse

A NH’s spouse born in El Salvador reports she is a citizen of El Salvador and Costa Rica. She is residing in Costa Rica

As a citizen of El Salvador, she would meet the social insurance citizenship exception to the ANP. She would also meet the social insurance citizenship exception as a citizen of Costa Rica. She meets the 5-year U.S. residency requirement under the ANP for dependents and survivors.

As an alien and a resident of Costa Rica, she is subject to Nonresident Alien Tax withholding.

Decision: If there is no proof of current citizenship of either country in file, develop for current proof of Costa Rican citizenship, the most recent citizenship she acquired.

NOTE: If this spouse had not met the 5-year residency requirement, she would not be eligible for payment under the ANP; therefore, we would not need proof of current citizenship.

6. No proof of foreign citizenship required for the ANP or Nonresident Alien Tax withholding – Non-U.S. citizen NH

A NH who was born in Armenia reports he is a citizen of Armenia, but also became a naturalized citizen of New Zealand and currently resides there.

As a citizen of Armenia, he would not meet a citizenship exception to the ANP. As a citizen of New Zealand, he would not meet a citizenship exception to the ANP.

As an alien and resident of New Zealand, he would be subject to Nonresident Alien Tax withholding on any benefits due.

Decision: We do not require proof of citizenship since the NH is not eligible for benefits payments, and proof of citizenship would not affect this.

E. References

  • RS 00210.001 Field Office (FO) and Program Service Center (PSC) Requirements and Definitions of Lump-Sum Death Payment (LSDP)

  • RS 02610.001 Alien Nonpayment Provisions

  • RS 02610.010 Exceptions to Alien Nonpayment

  • RS 02610.013 Coding Priority of Alien Nonpayment Provisions

  • RS 02610.015 Status of Countries for Alien Nonpayment Provision (ANP) Exceptions Based on Citizenship

  • RS 02610.025 5 Year Residency Requirement for Alien Dependents/Survivors Outside the United States (U.S.)

  • RS 02640.020 Foreign Country of Citizenship

  • RS 02640.060 Evidence of Citizenship in Other Countries

  • GN 00204.055 Internet Claim (iClaim) Application

  • GN 00205.180 Significance of Form SSA-21 (Supplement to Claim of Person Outside the United States)

  • GN 00303.100 United States (U.S.) Citizenship

  • GN 00303.200 Loss of United States (U.S.) Citizenship or Nationality

  • GN 00303.300 Establishing U.S. Citizenship for All SSA Programs

  • GN 00303.320 Evidence of U.S. Citizenship — Tolerances

  • GN 05010.010 Beneficiaries Subject to the Withholding Tax


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RS 02640.001 - Determining Country of Citizenship for Payments Outside the United States - 06/06/2018
Batch run: 06/06/2018
Rev:06/06/2018