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Retirement - US Soc Sec, UK Nat Ins, and the Totalization Agreement

Retirement - US Soc Sec, UK Nat Ins, and the Totalization Agreement

Old Dec 29th 2010, 6:13 pm
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Default Re: Retirement - US Soc Sec, UK Nat Ins, and the Totalization Agreement

I have spent a few hours on the phone with both the US social security admin and the UK end. This is what I have found out:-

I called the UK first, talked to a gentleman with the International Caseworker Team. The telephone number is 01144 1912 254811. I told him that I was returning to the UK and had been looking at the UK/US Totalization agreement. He said that things have changed, as far as the UK is concerned, what is paid into the UK stays in the UK, what is paid into the US stays in the US. If you are entitled to a US pension, that is ok that would not affect a UK pension and they couldn't care less about it. But - what I had thought before (what the US told me) about the US credits being counted to the UK system, this will not apply.
One years NI contributions entitle you to 1/3 of a pension. 30 years is needed for a full pension etc. He advised me to go to www.direct.gov.uk/pensions and fill out br19 and get a pension forecast. The telephone number is 001144 1912 183600.
He said that obviously agreements can change and stop. He also told me to look at the n138 booklet on hmrc.go.uk site.

Ok the US administration - had to go away and get the right info. Yes I am entitled to a US pension. They said that what the UK does is up to them and I have to listen to their rules. I pointed out that their website said that credits would be counted from the US to the UK and that this was incorrect and she said to go with what the UK is saying.
I asked if when I return to the UK with no US citizenship and no permanent resident card, am I still entitled to the Pension/benefits etc. She said oh, this doesn't sound right and then went off again. She came back and said yes, the UK is on the list of countries that allows residents to be entitled to benefits without having to be a citizen/resident of the US. So, as its stands currently you can receive pension from the US, without the citizenship or residency etc. Once again though, this is under the Totalization agreement, which could change.

The UK guy told me that class 3 contributions are currently 12.05 pounds for a week, to catch up on - no questions are asked if you want to pay these. Class 2 is different.

So, sounds quite daunting and unstable if you ask me, especially if you haven't worked much in the UK, like I haven't.

For those of you who have got the US citizenship - how long did it take after filling in the paperwork, till you got your citizenship? And also, do you have to keep coming in and out of the US to keep the citizenship?

What are your thoughts on all this?
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Old Dec 29th 2010, 6:20 pm
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Default Re: Retirement - US Soc Sec, UK Nat Ins, and the Totalization Agreement

Originally Posted by LindseyAM View Post
I have spent a few hours on the phone with both the US social security admin and the UK end. This is what I have found out:-

I called the UK first, talked to a gentleman with the International Caseworker Team. The telephone number is 01144 1912 254811. I told him that I was returning to the UK and had been looking at the UK/US Totalization agreement. He said that things have changed, as far as the UK is concerned, what is paid into the UK stays in the UK, what is paid into the US stays in the US. If you are entitled to a US pension, that is ok that would not affect a UK pension and they couldn't care less about it. But - what I had thought before (what the US told me) about the US credits being counted to the UK system, this will not apply.
One years NI contributions entitle you to 1/3 of a pension. 30 years is needed for a full pension etc. He advised me to go to www.direct.gov.uk/pensions and fill out br19 and get a pension forecast. The telephone number is 001144 1912 183600.
He said that obviously agreements can change and stop. He also told me to look at the n138 booklet on hmrc.go.uk site.

Ok the US administration - had to go away and get the right info. Yes I am entitled to a US pension. They said that what the UK does is up to them and I have to listen to their rules. I pointed out that their website said that credits would be counted from the US to the UK and that this was incorrect and she said to go with what the UK is saying.
I asked if when I return to the UK with no US citizenship and no permanent resident card, am I still entitled to the Pension/benefits etc. She said oh, this doesn't sound right and then went off again. She came back and said yes, the UK is on the list of countries that allows residents to be entitled to benefits without having to be a citizen/resident of the US. So, as its stands currently you can receive pension from the US, without the citizenship or residency etc. Once again though, this is under the Totalization agreement, which could change.

The UK guy told me that class 3 contributions are currently 12.05 pounds for a week, to catch up on - no questions are asked if you want to pay these. Class 2 is different.

So, sounds quite daunting and unstable if you ask me, especially if you haven't worked much in the UK, like I haven't.

For those of you who have got the US citizenship - how long did it take after filling in the paperwork, till you got your citizenship? And also, do you have to keep coming in and out of the US to keep the citizenship?

What are your thoughts on all this?
Thanks for all that info.
I did my citizenship just after 9/11 and it was super busy, but still only took about 10mths from start to finish. Others here did it a lot faster recently, Charleygirl, Jasper and some others. Do a search for their posts about the citizenship time lines and ceremony.
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Old Dec 29th 2010, 6:32 pm
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Default Re: Retirement - US Soc Sec, UK Nat Ins, and the Totalization Agreement

Originally Posted by Mummy in the foothills View Post
Thanks for all that info.
I did my citizenship just after 9/11 and it was super busy, but still only took about 10mths from start to finish. Others here did it a lot faster recently, Charleygirl, Jasper and some others. Do a search for their posts about the citizenship time lines and ceremony.
Yes great info Lindsey.

Just a small typo to point out - I year's NI contribution would entitle you to 1/30 of a pension.
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Old Dec 29th 2010, 6:44 pm
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Default Re: Retirement - US Soc Sec, UK Nat Ins, and the Totalization Agreement

Originally Posted by LindseyAM View Post
I have spent a few hours on the phone with both the US social security admin and the UK end. This is what I have found out:-

.............

The UK guy told me that class 3 contributions are currently 12.05 pounds for a week, to catch up on - no questions are asked if you want to pay these. Class 2 is different.

So, sounds quite daunting and unstable if you ask me, especially if you haven't worked much in the UK, like I haven't.

For those of you who have got the US citizenship - how long did it take after filling in the paperwork, till you got your citizenship? And also, do you have to keep coming in and out of the US to keep the citizenship?

What are your thoughts on all this?
Lindsay, Thanks for posting all your results of research, that is good info. especially for those interested in eligibility to receive US SS pension even when not USC/LPR

I agree is not a stable situation though, governments can change these rules on a whim.

While I was in the US I made voluntary annual top-up payments (best recollect is that it was the Class 3 payments you mention) to UK SS to ensure that I achieved (then 45 years, now 30 years) contributions to qualify for full UK pension. Stopped making the payments when I reached the max years. I received a refund recently when the limit changed from 45 to 30.

I got my USC about 5 years ago, it took altogether about 8 months, I don't rem exactly, but it has changed since, more security to slow it down, but more Immigration centers to process faster. Seems like it has been only a few months for recent applicants. Ticking the citizenship box seemed like a worthwhile thing to do to gain equality with born USC's on matters of future influenced by US administrations. (there were other positive reasons too)

You do not have to return to US to maintain your USC, there is no requirement to ever go back. It would be useful though, just in case of future need, to renew your US passport via the embassy wherever you go live, just as you do your Brit Passport in US.

Last edited by J.J; Dec 29th 2010 at 7:25 pm.
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Old Dec 29th 2010, 8:01 pm
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Default Re: Retirement - US Soc Sec, UK Nat Ins, and the Totalization Agreement

Originally Posted by LindseyAM View Post
I have spent a few hours on the phone with both the US social security admin and the UK end. This is what I have found out:-

I called the UK first, ....
...He advised me to go to www.direct.gov.uk/pensions and fill out br19 and get a pension forecast. The telephone number is 001144 1912 183600.
He said that obviously agreements can change and stop. He also told me to look at the n138 booklet on hmrc.go.uk site.
..............
My wife & I both requested pension forecasts from the UK authorities about a year ago. I would highly recommend it. We had to wait several months, but they sent back a personalised, multi-paged letter that tells you everything you would want to know about how many years you've paid in, how much you can expect when you retire, and your various options in terms of class 2 or class 3 contributione etc. It was definitely worthwhile.
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Old Dec 29th 2010, 11:20 pm
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Default Re: Retirement - US Soc Sec, UK Nat Ins, and the Totalization Agreement

I forgot to ad where you can find the info on the Social Security Administration website. It is publication 05-10137. or you can find it by putting "payments while outside the US" in the search.

I definitely will be starting to catch up on the NI contributions as soon as I can, as I don't feel that you can depend as much on the US. On the front of my last SS statement it does say that by 2041 they will have exhausted alot of the SS and they estimate that you'll get maybe 78c for every $1 you should get.
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Old Dec 30th 2010, 12:57 am
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Default Re: Retirement - US Soc Sec, UK Nat Ins, and the Totalization Agreement

Originally Posted by robin1234 View Post
My wife & I both requested pension forecasts from the UK authorities about a year ago. I would highly recommend it. We had to wait several months, but they sent back a personalised, multi-paged letter that tells you everything you would want to know about how many years you've paid in, how much you can expect when you retire, and your various options in terms of class 2 or class 3 contributione etc. It was definitely worthwhile.
I sent of for mine too and got a very detailed reply, telling me exactly how much I need to pay to make up my contributions and how much I need to pay by a certain date etc. I have 3 years to make it up first payment due April 2011. I am short 3 years worth of contributions.

I also became a US citizen recently, process was very fast 152 days would have been quicker but I was in the UK for 8 weeks and had to delay my oath, could have had it all over in less than 100 days .
This is a great sight to track and see how long they are taking at the moment. You can search by district offices.
http://www.trackitt.com/usa-immigration-trackers/i140

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Old Dec 30th 2010, 12:58 am
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Default Re: Retirement - US Soc Sec, UK Nat Ins, and the Totalization Agreement

Thanks Dunroving for starting this thread have been wondering about it. Also Lynsey thanks for that info........very useful.
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Old Dec 30th 2010, 2:24 am
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Default Re: Retirement - US Soc Sec, UK Nat Ins, and the Totalization Agreement

My pleasure - it could all change though, hopefully not.
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Old Dec 30th 2010, 9:07 am
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Default Re: Retirement - US Soc Sec, UK Nat Ins, and the Totalization Agreement

Originally Posted by LindseyAM View Post
My pleasure - it could all change though, hopefully not.
One thing to bear in mind when trying to figure out the total of what you might eventually get from both US SS and UK NI retirement pensions is USA Windfall Elimination provision (WEP).

WEP rules for every $2 of 'non-SS subscribed' pension you are eligible for, your US SS pension will be reduced by $1, (but no greater than half your US), unless you have achieved 30 yrs of subscription to US SS.

This is significant, consider if you get a UK SS pension equal to US$100 plus a US SS of $100 then you will receive a total of $150, not $200, losing $50 off your US SS pension because of WEP (you are excluded if you have 30 years of credit to US SS)

The application of WEP rules is a presumption on my part, the WEP rules state "if you receive a pension from work where [US] Social Security taxes were not taken out of your pay." - which I am presuming would include any work in the UK or eslewhere, in addition to any non-subscribing work within the US, http://www.ssa.gov/pubs/10045.html
It is not clear to me if WEP applies 'upon eligibility' or 'upon receipt' of the other pension.

We are trying to understand this WEP because we are on the cusp, I have stopped working and DH is working, we are trying to estimate our income if he were to stop working / made redundant, and start taking Pensions as and when we become eligible.

Last edited by J.J; Dec 30th 2010 at 9:43 am.
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Old Dec 30th 2010, 9:50 am
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Default Re: Retirement - US Soc Sec, UK Nat Ins, and the Totalization Agreement

Originally Posted by J.J View Post
One thing to bear in mind when trying to figure out the total of what you might eventually get from both US SS and UK NI retirement pensions is USA Windfall Elimination provision (WEP).

WEP rules for every $2 of 'non-SS subscribed' pension you are eligible for, your US SS pension will be reduced by $1, (but no greater than half your US), unless you have achieved 30 yrs of subscription to US SS.

This is significant, consider if you get a UK SS pension equal to US$100 plus a US SS of $100 then you will receive a total of $150, not $200, losing $50 off your US SS pension because of WEP (you are excluded if you have 30 years of credit to US SS)

The application of WEP rules is a presumption on my part, the WEP rules state "if you receive a pension from work where [US] Social Security taxes were not taken out of your pay." - which I am presuming would include any work in the UK or eslewhere, in addition to any non-subscribing work within the US, http://www.ssa.gov/pubs/10045.html
It is not clear to me if WEP applies 'upon eligibility' or 'upon receipt' of the other pension.

We are trying to understand this WEP because we are on the cusp, I have stopped working and DH is working, we are trying to estimate our income if he were to stop working / made redundant, and start taking Pensions as and when we become eligible.
Does the Windfall Provision consider only UK state pension, or also private pensions (e.g., voluntary contribution work pensions)? It hardly seems fair that those of us who sacrifice during our work life by paying into a pension scheme (instead of buying a new car every 2 years) would be penalised by having our (US) state pension reduced.
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Old Dec 30th 2010, 10:20 am
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Default Re: Retirement - US Soc Sec, UK Nat Ins, and the Totalization Agreement

Originally Posted by dunroving View Post
Does the Windfall Provision consider only UK state pension, or also private pensions (e.g., voluntary contribution work pensions)? It hardly seems fair that those of us who sacrifice during our work life by paying into a pension scheme (instead of buying a new car every 2 years) would be penalised by having our (US) state pension reduced.
the way I interpret it, any pension you earned through work that does not pay subscription to US SS, which I believe includes the teaching profession in US. The SS documents I read do not state what these other pension might be, other than that they do not subscribe to US SS which of course anything in UK does not.

I am presuming that means my DH's UK military pension, our private pension plans from jobs we had in UK and our UK NI pension - the private one's do not add up to much, maybe better to take a lump sum - but none of them stem from work contributing to the US SS trust Fund

The intent of WEP is to slow the shrinking of the US SS pot by finding a reason to not pay out.
Not aimed at us small minority of 'foreigners' I presume, it seems to target those in the US who get a mighty private pension and limit them taking a proportion of the US SS they maybe do not necessarily need, therefore leaving the shrinking pot available for longer for those that depend solely on the US SS.
A good intent towards the poorest, yes, but as you say hardly fair to us having paid in our 40+ quarters contributions and not getting full return just because we incidentally qualify for a pension from another country.

On the new car theme, we also don't do and instead invest the money into our future, it is not the way of the world. I know someone here in UK, a Co Director, that rents rather than pay a mortgage and qualifies for Housing Benefit to pay his rent because he has no savings - and he has no savings because he spends it all on holidays and cars and wall mounted tellies and the high life.
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Old Dec 30th 2010, 10:40 am
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Default Re: Retirement - US Soc Sec, UK Nat Ins, and the Totalization Agreement

Originally Posted by J.J View Post
the way I interpret it, any pension you earned through work that does not pay subscription to US SS, which I believe includes the teaching profession in US. The SS documents I read do not state what these other pension might be, other than that they do not subscribe to US SS which of course anything in UK does not.

I am presuming that means my DH's UK military pension, our private pension plans from jobs we had in UK and our UK NI pension - the private one's do not add up to much, maybe better to take a lump sum - but none of them stem from work contributing to the US SS trust Fund

The intent of WEP is to slow the shrinking of the US SS pot by finding a reason to not pay out.
Not aimed at us small minority of 'foreigners' I presume, it seems to target those in the US who get a mighty private pension and limit them taking a proportion of the US SS they maybe do not necessarily need, therefore leaving the shrinking pot available for longer for those that depend solely on the US SS.
A good intent towards the poorest, yes, but as you say hardly fair to us having paid in our 40+ quarters contributions and not getting full return just because we incidentally qualify for a pension from another country.

On the new car theme, we also don't do and instead invest the money into our future, it is not the way of the world. I know someone here in UK, a Co Director, that rents rather than pay a mortgage and qualifies for Housing Benefit to pay his rent because he has no savings - and he has no savings because he spends it all on holidays and cars and wall mounted tellies and the high life.
That latter part is what drives me nuts about the so-called fairness of the whole means-testing principle. I'm now on a decent salary, but only because I spent 10 years in undergraduate and postgraduate education, giving up earnings and spending my life savings to that point. I didn't buy my "real" first house (in the US) until I was 41 and within 9 years of saving/not spending, was within maybe 3 years of paying it off. Now I'm close to being back to square one, thanks to a sucky £/$ exchange rate in 2006 and the ludicrous price of UK houses when I bought in 2007 (of course, my house is now worth about 75% of its 2007 value).

If I'm lucky, I might have my UK mortgage paid off by the time I'm 65, and have a decent cushion of savings. After busting my chops my whole life, I'll then be penalised, rather than people who have squandered their money on credit-card funded holidays and other luxuries.

Bloody hell, I'm beginning to sound like a daily Mail reader, that's not good.
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Old Dec 31st 2010, 1:58 am
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Default Re: Retirement - US Soc Sec, UK Nat Ins, and the Totalization Agreement

Originally Posted by LindseyAM View Post
I have spent a few hours on the phone with both the US social security admin and the UK end. This is what I have found out:-

I called the UK first, talked to a gentleman with the International Caseworker Team. The telephone number is 01144 1912 254811. I told him that I was returning to the UK and had been looking at the UK/US Totalization agreement. He said that things have changed, as far as the UK is concerned, what is paid into the UK stays in the UK, what is paid into the US stays in the US. If you are entitled to a US pension, that is ok that would not affect a UK pension and they couldn't care less about it. But - what I had thought before (what the US told me) about the US credits being counted to the UK system, this will not apply.
One years NI contributions entitle you to 1/3 of a pension. 30 years is needed for a full pension etc. He advised me to go to www.direct.gov.uk/pensions and fill out br19 and get a pension forecast. The telephone number is 001144 1912 183600.
He said that obviously agreements can change and stop. He also told me to look at the n138 booklet on hmrc.go.uk site.

Ok the US administration - had to go away and get the right info. Yes I am entitled to a US pension. They said that what the UK does is up to them and I have to listen to their rules. I pointed out that their website said that credits would be counted from the US to the UK and that this was incorrect and she said to go with what the UK is saying.
I asked if when I return to the UK with no US citizenship and no permanent resident card, am I still entitled to the Pension/benefits etc. She said oh, this doesn't sound right and then went off again. She came back and said yes, the UK is on the list of countries that allows residents to be entitled to benefits without having to be a citizen/resident of the US. So, as its stands currently you can receive pension from the US, without the citizenship or residency etc. Once again though, this is under the Totalization agreement, which could change.

The UK guy told me that class 3 contributions are currently 12.05 pounds for a week, to catch up on - no questions are asked if you want to pay these. Class 2 is different.

So, sounds quite daunting and unstable if you ask me, especially if you haven't worked much in the UK, like I haven't.

For those of you who have got the US citizenship - how long did it take after filling in the paperwork, till you got your citizenship? And also, do you have to keep coming in and out of the US to keep the citizenship?

What are your thoughts on all this?
So just to make sure I understand .... if you're entitled to US social security payments, you can receive your money in the UK. Meantime, the UK doesn't care what you're getting from anywhere else and will also pay you your pension?

So if I earned 1/3 pension in the UK, and full SS, I could receive both those amounts when I am in England? With no penalties for what the other country is paying me?

I'm confused
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Old Dec 31st 2010, 2:00 am
  #30  
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Default Re: Retirement - US Soc Sec, UK Nat Ins, and the Totalization Agreement

Originally Posted by sallysimmons View Post
So just to make sure I understand .... if you're entitled to US social security payments, you can receive your money in the UK. Meantime, the UK doesn't care what you're getting from anywhere else and will also pay you your pension?

So if I earned 1/3 pension in the UK, and full SS, I could receive both those amounts when I am in England? With no penalties for what the other country is paying me?

I'm confused
I think thats right Sally, at least thats what I understood it to mean..
Jackie.
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