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Maternity Benefits for Canadians in the U.S.

Expert: Francine Blouin-Wilkinson

Rachel asked:

I am a Canadian citizen.

If I give birth in the USA, can I still collect maternity and parental benefits?

Francine Blouin-Wilkinson answered:

We recognize the time that an American will come and work here or a Canadian will go and work in the US. The two countries agreed that if a US citizen works in Canada and goes back to the States to live they're going to be able to collect Canadian wages and benefits, and vice versa. If a Canadian citizen goes to work in the States and pays U.S. dollars on a common insurance premium then if they come to back to Canada they'll be able to collect U.S. benefits. It works like that.

We also have the situation of a Canadian citizen who moves to the States, works over there either for a Canadian employer, such as a head office location, or a U.S. company. The only time that somebody would be paying Canadian E.I. premiums outside the country would be if they were not insured under that country's system. In most cases, to my knowledge, people are insured in the other country, therefore the person living in the States whether she works for a Canadian owned or U.S. company they usually pay the U.S. insurance. Therefore what she would collect, if there were any, would depend on which state you are in. Every State has their own E.I. system; it's different than our national system. If the State provides parental benefits and you have contributed enough to meet the rules she would collect U.S. benefits.

For those Canadians who live and work in the States, generally what you collect would be the same, E.I. It depends on where they reside and what plan is offered wherever they are. It's not everyone that offers parental benefits in the U.S. There are different criteria, lengths, and rates from state to state.

You need to go to your state's unemployment office and apply for maternity benefits. They're going to look at whether you've worked enough and paid enough under their system. Although if you didn't pay enough or that type of benefit is not offered and you happened to have also worked in Canada paying premiums before you left. There's an application you can make here to see if you can qualify but you need to do it first in the States.

About the author

Francine Blouin-Wilkinson is the Acting Director of Policy and Legislation Development with Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC).

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