Are Employees of Foreign Governments Covered by Social Security?

Working inside the U.S. as an employee of a foreign government or an instrumentality of one can mean you’re not covered by Social Security. These workers include diplomats, embassy employees, non-diplomatic representatives, consular officers and employees of foreign government instrumentalities (non-commercial organizations that function on behalf of a foreign government).

Whether or not your work will be counted toward Social Security benefits is controlled by your citizenship status.

U.S. Citizens who work for a foreign government are treated as self-employed citizens are for Social Security. Your employer will not withhold Social Security taxes but your earnings can still count toward your coverage under the program. You are responsible for paying self-employment taxes on the income. Citizens who work for an instrumentality are covered by Social Security, but their earnings may be treated as employment or self-employment based on three conditions. The U.S. Department of State and the IRS will determine which category your work falls into.

Non-citizens are not covered by Social Security for work they perform for a foreign government. Their employment for an instrumentality of a foreign government may or may not be covered by Social Security, depending on same three conditions mentioned above.

Dual citizens who hold citizenship in the U.S. and another country are covered by Social Security in most cases, but depending on the country for which they are working, they may need to pay self-employment taxes or not. Dual citizens who work for an instrumentality of a foreign government may or may not be exempt from paying Social Security taxes on their earnings. Reciprocal social security agreements between the U.S. and foreign governments vary by country, so it is important that dual citizens speak with a qualified professional or governmental administrator to determine program eligibility and tax responsibilities.

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