Written by Crispin Aranda
Posted on July 18, 2013
If you are the widow or widower of a U.S. citizen, you are eligible to apply for your own immigrant visa - but only within a two year period from the time of the U.S. Citizen spouse's death. You are also entitled to other benefits from the Social Security Administration and other federal agencies.
Applying for Benefits as Widow/Widower of a US Citizen
If you are the widow or widower of a U.S. Citizen, you must apply to get immigration and financial benefits (your own immigrant visa and/or pension as surviving spouse) within two years of the U.S. Citizen spouse’s death.
Background. On October 28, 2009, President Obama signed a law allowing widows or widowers of U.S. Citizens to apply for immigrant visas even if they were married for less than two years.
Before this, the widow or widower of a U.S. Citizen may apply for an immigrant visa if they had been married for at least two years and the widow or widower applies for her or his immigrant visa within two years of the U.S. Citizen’s death.
Deadline to Submit. However, the deadline for these petitions if the spouse died before October 28, 2009 expired almost two years ago- October 28, 2011.
If the U.S. Citizen died less than two years ago, the widow or widower must immediately apply for her or his own immigrant visa called the Self-Petition as a Special Immigrant. If you need assistance in meeting the requirements or filing forms, you may call the Immigrant Visa Center at 02-634-8727
Other Benefits as Widow/Widower of US Citizen
The Social Security Administration explains that "if the U.S. citizen spouse died more than two years ago, the widow or widower may still apply and get benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA) as well as other federal agencies.
If you are the widow or widower of a person who worked long enough under Social Security, you can:
If you remarry, after you reach age 60 (age 50 if disabled), your remarriage will not affect your eligibility for survivors benefits.
If you are not getting benefits, you should apply for survivor benefits promptly because, in some cases, benefits may not be retroactive. You can:
Important: If you want to apply in person, please call and make an appointment before you visit your local office.
Prepare Documents for the Benefits You Wish to Avail of. These benefits are:
Documents Required -
Note: If you do not have a bank account, you can sign up for the Direct Express® card program. With the Direct Express® program, we deposit your federal benefit payment directly into your card account.
Public records like your birth certificate and marriage or divorce records must be the originals or copies certified by the issuing agency. We cannot accept uncertified photocopies. The U.S. Federal Agency, such as the Social Security Administration will return the documents to you.
What If You Don't Have All Of The Documents?
If you don't have all the documents you need, it is still recommended that you sign up for Social Security by visiting the local office at the U.S. Embassy
Note: Since every person's situation is different, you cannot apply for survivors benefits online."
Offices and Contact Information in the Philippines
U.S. Embassy Manila hosts the offices of the U.S. Social Security Administration and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Both offices provide services and manage benefits of qualified applicants and recipients.
Social Security Administration (SSA)
Services provided by Social Security include:
Phone: (632) 301-2000 ext. 9
Fax: (632) 708-9723 and (632) 708-9714
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (USDVA)
The USDVA Regional Office offers a wide range of services to Veterans, including the processing of benefits claims, local payment of benefit checks, and other social services available to claimaints. Benefits counselors are on duty at the Regional Office from 7:30 AM to 4:30 PM Monday through Friday to answer questions concerning all aspects of veterans benefits.
United States Department of Veterans Affairs - Manila Regional Office
Seafront Compound, 1501 Roxas Boulevard, 1302 Pasay City(near Cuneta Astrodome)
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