In Effect: US - Brazil Social Security Treaty

Note:  I'm amazed that this hasn't  been previously posted, especially given the number of folks here that have legitimately posted about the major issue of double taxation between the two countries - including social security taxes. 

- In effect since October 1, this bilateral agreement has received very little press coverage in the States, or even here in Brazil.

For proof: see the USA Social Security website: … rview.html

There is still no overall Tax Treaty between the two countries, despite the high volume of bilateral commerce and investments, not to mention the number of expat Brazilians living there, and expat Americans living here.

To say that made the signing of a bilateral Social Security  Treaty between the two countries  come somewhat as a surprise is an understatement.   Even more so when you compare the number of Tax Treaties to the number of Social Security Agreements - within each country.  You'll see that this second type of agreement is much less common for each country.

What are the principal benefits?

Improves eligibility, and potential social security benefits, for anyone who may have worked  in both countries

- Eliminates double taxation with respect to social security payments to both countries on the same earnings - by you and your employer;  or self-employment taxes if that is your case

- Potential Spousal and Survivor benefits   

This last item would have been the case had there been no agreement, but the hurdle would have been far higher.  Without the agreement, the Brazilian spouse would have been required to have physically resided in the US with his/her partner for a period of at least five years.   That is a fairly steep requirement for folks who don't otherwise intend on making a life there.  There are less than two dozen countries that have signed onto such an agreement with the US - so now Brazil and all Brazilians are on that "coveted" list.    So that is potentially great news indeed if you happen to be in a committed relationship with a Brazilian, in being able to provide otherwise unattainable spousal or survivor beneifts.

Request:  I trust this thread was useful.  Folks here who actually go through the process of making their spouses eligible for survival benefits, combining social security benefits of the two countries, or who go through the process of eliminating double taxation should share their experiences here.

Note to Admin:  Please consider making this post a "sticky."   This  Agreement is a major new development for fellow expats here, with the potential life-improving consequences listed above.  However, it has been little publicized, and that's where this site/thread could help potential or existing members.

Thanks for posting! :top:

I just completed the process necessary to begin receiving US social security benefits. What a nightmare. During that process I did not see any news about this new Agreement between Brasil and the USA. This is great news, however I cannot find the language in the Agreement which eliminates the 5 year US residency requirement for a Brasilian spouse of a US citizen to be eligible to receive survivor benefits. Can you point me to the specific section for this change in the law?

That provision is not specific to the Agreement, so you would not find it there.   It applies to all countries which have signed a Social Security Agreement with the US. 

You can find the actual basis for this  major new benefit for Brazil spouses of US citizens here.

Look under the heading:  Requirements for Dependents/Survivors.  [Alternatively, under Publications.] Read very carefully  "Your Payments While You are Outside the United States."   You'll find the information that you are seeking there.

Thank you very much, Marcos.

To be more specific, I not concerned about my Social Security benefits. I am receiving those while residing in Brasil. I am concerned about a Brasilian citizen & resident dependent and their survivor benefits.

It is quite confusing. The document I am referring to is titled, "Your Payments While You Are Outside the United States (EN-05-10137). It states, at page 4, "If you are a citizen of one of the countries listed below... " (Brazil is listed) then states, "If you are receiving benefits as a dependent or survivor, you must also meet the conditions listed in this publication under the heading "Additional Residency Requirements for dependents and survivors".

OK, what are those additional residency requirements?  Before the pamphlet lists those requirements, it states "If you are a resident of a country that has a U.S. social security agreement we will continue your payments". The USA now has such an agreement with Brasil, so is that where to stop reading? I would love to simply stop reading there, but unfortunately my experience with US Government publications tells me "keep reading".

So, then comes the "Additional residency requirements for dependents and survivors." section. That section states, "If you are a citizen of a country for which we require dependents and survivors to meet additional residency requirements, you will have to show that you lived in the United States for at least five years. (emphasis added). It also states that "during those five years, you must have been in the family relationship on which we based your benefits."

So, does the language related to countries with which the US has a Social Security Agreement trump the "additional residency requirements" language? Then, just to eliminate any clarity which might have been evident to some, the pamphlet states, "However, the U.S. residency requirement does NOT apply if you meet any of the following conditions:" and there is a condition which states, "You are a resident of a country...listed in the section titled "Countries that have social security agreements with the United States" in this publication."  (pg 10 of the publication)Brasil is not listed but there is a link . Unfortunately, Brasil is not on that list.

So, unfortunately, I remain confused and uncertain as to survivor benefit status of a Brasilian citizen who has not lived in the USA five years and resides in Brasil but is a dependant of a US citizen residing in Brasil who is receiving Social Security retirement benefits.

I very much appreciate your time and effort in responding.

I didn't seem to get an alert that you responded, PTRio, but here goes, if a couple weeks late.  Sorry about that.

- "It is quite confusing."   That is an understatement.  US bureaucrats just can't seem to get their writing act together.  The word "Circumlocution"  would seem to sum up this particular style well.  You seem to get that, the way you have literally followed all their circuitous dead-ends LOL.

- "I would love to simply stop reading there, but unfortunately my experience with US Government publications tells me "keep reading".   Mine too.

- "So, does the language related to countries with which the US has a Social Security Agreement trump the "additional residency requirements" language?"    Yes, that is certainly my understanding.

- "Unfortunately, Brasil is not on that list".   Yes, that is true, but I would not read that much into it.  It would appear to be simply due to the SSA bureaucrats' not getting around to updating Country List 3.   

Remember that that publication came out in June 2018, four months before the US-Brazil Social Security Totalization Agreement actually went into effect.

More important than that [outdated] country list, is their official [updated] status table of agreements:

Which, certainly more than that country list, offers definitive proof  that Brazil is indeed one of the "Countries that have social security agreements with the United States"

As such, that would imply that a dependent of a US citizen residing in Brasil who is receiving Social Security retirement benefits would indeed be eligible for Survival Benefits even though he has not lived at least five years in the USA and presently lives in Brazil.

Appreciate your response, thank you. And yes, I agree, the fact the SSA bureaucrats (and they are certainly among the most bureaucratic among bureaucrats) have not updated their website or published updated information is the source of what is likely a lot of confusion currently over this new development. I do hope this thread will remain on the website for some time as there will no doubt be others who try to navigate through this process and reach the same dead ends with respect to the currently published information. Just calling Social Security can be an hour or longer project.  All the best.

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