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planning for the future.... SSI and Medicare
May 21, 2012

I'm writing to you from The Netherlands...where I have lived and worked for over 20 years now...I'm a US citizen and left when I was 27...while I appreciate the universal health care here in Europe and not having the expensive co pays and exclusions and getting 100% coverage.....someday I would like to return to a better climate and be stateside nearer to my friends and family...even though it may only be 6 months of the year..my question? I have 38 quarters of verified SS contributions...so just 2 quarters short of the 40 minimum...the additional 2 quarters I could easily accomplish....however, I was very young and just a student and didn't earn very much during these 38 quarters and left for Europe shortly after graduating from University and my income/SS contributions were not very much...I have been unable to determine what is the minimum that one could expect from SS upon retirement age...Do you know what the minimum SS $ monthly amount that one could expect if they have only paid in a minimum over the 10 years/40 quarters? On the last SS benefits statement..."it stated if you died this year your spouse may be eligible for $732/month upon full retirement age."

Thank You and kind regards

Response from Mr. Chambers

I can understand you wanting to at least have the flexibility to return to the US if you choose to. I'll try to answer your questions. It appears you are about 47 now, so I will address primarily if you are considering filing for disability. The biggest problem with that is while you need 40 quarters, for disability you must have earned at least 20 of those quarters in the 40 quarters ending when you file for disability. In other words, you need to have paid into Social Security through FICA payroll taxes in 5 out of the last 10 years to be eligible to even file for disability. So even adding two quarters will not help you with Social Security Disability.

The Normal Retirement Age for Social Security will be age 67 for persons born in 1960 or after. The amount of benefit depends on how much you have paid into Social Security through FICA payroll taxes, which is based on your past annual incomes.

They have stopped sending out annual statements, but they have recently added the ability to get that information on line. Go to www.ssa.gov/mystatement. There is a setup process, but you will be guided through that process. In addition to asking you to prove who you are, you will need to have a user name and password. If you want extra security, you can add an extra layer so that a special code will be sent to your cellphone whenever you want to log in, and you'll need to use that code to enter.

Once in, you will be able to review a history of your reported earnings, your eligibility for disability (or how many quarters are missing to qualify), how much you would get at early retirement, Normal Retirement Age, and age 70.

Neither Social Security Disability nor Retirement has a minimum benefit. It could theoretically be only a few dollars if your earnings were that low.

If, however, your assets and income are low enough, you could supplement the Social Security benefit with Supplement Security Income (SSI), also administered by Social Security. It is a needs based program that you may be eligible for if you are disabled or over 65, which will pay up to between $674 and $830 per month or more depending on how much your state of residence contributes to the payments.

While, I have tried to answer your questions, you really should explore this more thoroughly before moving back to the US.

Good luck, Jacques



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