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Trying to check social security eligibility

Trying to check social security eligibility

Old Jun 12th 2020, 3:28 am
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Default Trying to check social security eligibility

I’m a Brit who’s mainly lived abroad since university. First in the USA (1985-2007) then mainly in Asia (China, Mongolia and Vietnam). My country of residence is Mongolia now but we got stuck in Vietnam during covid19.



I’m here to search for advice on possible early retirement. Here’s some background info:

1) I’m about to receive an inheritance. It’s approximately £200K but that’s just an estimate.

2) I worked in the USA for 22 years legally (greencard holder now expired). Trying to check my entitlement. How to do that when I haven’t got a US address or phone number?

3) I’ve accumulated 7 years of NI contributions in the UK. Is it worth topping this up to reach the 10 year minimum?


At the moment, my fiancée and I, she's Mongolian, live on about £800 per month and save about £1000. I’m 57 and trying to find out if I can retire early. However, I need a better picture if I’m entitled to any kind of state pension from USA and maybe the UK if I top up my NI contributions to meet the 10 year requirement.

We don’t own property and I don’t have any health insurance but we’re both healthy at the moment and pay cash for any meds. Actually, she’s covered under Mongolia’s crappy health system.

Any advice?
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Old Jun 12th 2020, 3:33 am
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Default Re: Trying to check social security eligibility

You can check here in the US:
https://www.ssa.gov/myaccount/
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Old Jun 12th 2020, 1:43 pm
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Default Re: Trying to check social security eligibility

As long as you have paid into SS for 10 years (40 quarters), you are eligible for SS benefits at the age of 62. State benefits are only available to those that worked for the State government agency(ies). For example, my husband worked as a computer tech for a NYS school. He was not advised to sign up for State retirement benefits when he started work and never did. When he retired he was not eligible for a State Pension.

The social security administration website will tell you what your anticipated monthly benefit will be starting at the early age of 62. The amount goes up the longer you delay your claim after the age of 62.
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Old Jun 12th 2020, 2:14 pm
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Default Re: Trying to check social security eligibility

Originally Posted by UKadventurer7 View Post
3) I’ve accumulated 7 years of NI contributions in the UK. Is it worth topping this up to reach the 10 year minimum?
I'd top it up as much as you can, I think the max is 6 years backdated? Given it's only £158ish a year (assuming you're eligible for Class 2 contributions), it wouldn't take you long to break even on that, it's a very good investment. How old are you, could you keep making NI contributions for a while yet to get more UK state pension, or are you nearly at retirement age?

Last edited by christmasoompa; Jun 12th 2020 at 2:18 pm.
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Old Jun 12th 2020, 2:51 pm
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Default Re: Trying to check social security eligibility

Originally Posted by christmasoompa View Post
I'd top it up as much as you can, I think the max is 6 years backdated? Given it's only £158ish a year (assuming you're eligible for Class 2 contributions), it wouldn't take you long to break even on that, it's a very good investment. How old are you, could you keep making NI contributions for a while yet to get more UK state pension, or are you nearly at retirement age?
the OP’s post says he is 57.
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Old Jun 12th 2020, 3:08 pm
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Default Re: Trying to check social security eligibility

Originally Posted by tht View Post
the OP’s post says he is 57.
Doh! Missed that. Shame he's not been contributing NI all these years, but he can at least make up a good chunk of it.
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Old Jun 12th 2020, 3:30 pm
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Default Re: Trying to check social security eligibility

Originally Posted by christmasoompa View Post
I'd top it up as much as you can, I think the max is 6 years backdated? Given it's only £158ish a year (assuming you're eligible for Class 2 contributions), it wouldn't take you long to break even on that, it's a very good investment.
Absolutely worth it. If the OP is permitted to pay (class 2) 6 years of missed contributions that brings him to a total of 13 years of NI contributions paid. At the 2020 State pension rate, 13 years of contributions would give him a pension of around £65 per week* not to be sneezed at.

*based on the current full state pension rate of £175.20 per week - there are a few caveats to that amount, such as if the OP had any contracted out periods, additional pension accrual, but I'm not knowledgeable enough to discuss that.
The calculation:
£175.20 divided by 35 x 13 = £65.07

Last edited by spouse of scouse; Jun 12th 2020 at 3:35 pm.
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Old Jun 12th 2020, 4:35 pm
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Default Re: Trying to check social security eligibility

Originally Posted by tht View Post
You can check here in the US:
I tried it and it said I’d put in the wrong information. Also, I haven’t got my own US mailing address or phone number. I could use a friend’s as it doesn’t say I have to live there. Anyway, I tried 3 times and I was locked out. It said I could try again in 24 hours but it didn’t tell me what I’d done wrong. So I’m not sure what good it would be to try again. I left the phone number blank but it’s not mandatory.

Then I tried calling the international support line. It just said everyone is busy. Call back another time. Frustrating.
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Old Jun 12th 2020, 5:05 pm
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Default Re: Trying to check social security eligibility

Originally Posted by UKadventurer7 View Post
I’m a Brit who’s mainly lived abroad since university. First in the USA (1985-2007)
I’m here to search for advice on possible early retirement. Here’s some background info:
I’m 57 and trying to find out if I can retire early. However, I need a better picture if I’m entitled to any kind of state pension from US
Any advice?
This may be helpful: https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclope...its-30154.html
btw: the site itself is reputable. I'm familiar with it because they publish various legal books for the layman which are excellent

Edit: I see they actually publish a book about Social Security...and provide an online sample chapter here:
https://store.nolo.com/products/soci...lated-products
I skimmed it and see it says Social Security can start to pay out at age 62

Edit 2:
A) https://secure.ssa.gov/RIL/SiView.action (This allows you to set up an online SSA account)
B) To find out what your rights are to collect Social Security benefits based on your country of citizenship, your country of residence, and the type of Social Security benefit you’re entitled to receive, see the Social Security Administration’s official online publication “Your Payments While You Are Outside the United States,” available at: www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10137.html.

You'll really be ready for retirement by the time you jump thru all these hoops and hurdles

Last edited by MMcD; Jun 12th 2020 at 5:36 pm.
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Old Jun 12th 2020, 5:05 pm
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Default Re: Trying to check social security eligibility

Originally Posted by spouse of scouse View Post
Absolutely worth it. If the OP is permitted to pay (class 2) 6 years of missed contributions that brings him to a total of 13 years of NI contributions paid. At the 2020 State pension rate, 13 years of contributions would give him a pension of around £65 per week* not to be sneezed at.

*based on the current full state pension rate of £175.20 per week - there are a few caveats to that amount, such as if the OP had any contracted out periods, additional pension accrual, but I'm not knowledgeable enough to discuss that.
The calculation:
£175.20 divided by 35 x 13 = £65.07
My brother helped me check my pension on the UK website when I was back there a couple of years ago. It’s a lot easier than the US one which has thwarted me so far. I took a screenshot of the summary but I can’t post it yet:

Aged 67: £98.43 per week, £427.99 per month.

I’ll ask my bro how to make contributions. He’s a retired chartered accountant. I’ve got a bank account in the UK so I guess I could make payments from that.

How does it work if you get pensions from 2 countries? My best guess on an US estimator is that I’d get a lot more than the UK pension. My guess is probably horribly inaccurate for the US earnings. My ex wife kept all the tax returns and my accountant only keeps 10 years of records which is after I left. The US estimator with my bad best guesses shows this:

Aged 62: $1462
Aged 67: $2076
Aged 70: $2575
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Old Jun 12th 2020, 5:06 pm
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Default Re: Trying to check social security eligibility

Originally Posted by UKadventurer7 View Post
I tried it and it said I’d put in the wrong information. Also, I haven’t got my own US mailing address or phone number. I could use a friend’s as it doesn’t say I have to live there. Anyway, I tried 3 times and I was locked out. It said I could try again in 24 hours but it didn’t tell me what I’d done wrong. So I’m not sure what good it would be to try again. I left the phone number blank but it’s not mandatory.

Then I tried calling the international support line. It just said everyone is busy. Call back another time. Frustrating.
Did you already have an account or just attempting to open on?
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Old Jun 12th 2020, 5:11 pm
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Default Re: Trying to check social security eligibility

Originally Posted by UKadventurer7 View Post
I tried it and it said I’d put in the wrong information. Also, I haven’t got my own US mailing address or phone number. I could use a friend’s as it doesn’t say I have to live there. Anyway, I tried 3 times and I was locked out. It said I could try again in 24 hours but it didn’t tell me what I’d done wrong. So I’m not sure what good it would be to try again. I left the phone number blank but it’s not mandatory.

Then I tried calling the international support line. It just said everyone is busy. Call back another time. Frustrating.
you won’t be much happier with the process to make Class 2 NIC contributions in the UK... it took me 2 snail mail submissions and multiple phone calls to be approved and now I have to keep calling to allocate the multiple payments I made from the most recent years to the oldest which will “time out”. But even with the risk if changes the ROI seems pretty good so worth looking at. And once this last allocation is corrected I will only need to make 1 payment a year going forward. At your age the figure may be different but my max potential shows online as GBP175 a week, and right now I am forecast at GBP105 a week with my current 19 years worth of contributions.
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Old Jun 12th 2020, 5:11 pm
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Default Re: Trying to check social security eligibility

I don’t think I ever had an account. I tried to create one today. I’m pretty sure I entered my SS# and name correctly. I don’t have my SS card anymore. I’ve moved about a million times since 2007 so it got lost somewhere. However, I do have a W2 from 2018 when I got a small settlement from an ex employer.
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Old Jun 12th 2020, 5:14 pm
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Default Re: Trying to check social security eligibility

Originally Posted by UKadventurer7 View Post
My brother helped me check my pension on the UK website when I was back there a couple of years ago. It’s a lot easier than the US one which has thwarted me so far. I took a screenshot of the summary but I can’t post it yet:

Aged 67: £98.43 per week, £427.99 per month.

I’ll ask my bro how to make contributions. He’s a retired chartered accountant. I’ve got a bank account in the UK so I guess I could make payments from that.
I don't know how the site you used to check your UK State pension entitlement came up with £98.43 per week, when with only 7 years of NI contributions you currently don't qualify to receive any pension at all.
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Old Jun 12th 2020, 5:21 pm
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Default Re: Trying to check social security eligibility

Social security offices are still closed to the public here so I imagine that the phone lines will be very busy indeed since that is the only way that you can communicate with them. Coupled with restrictions on number of people actually allowed in the building ( to answer the phones, deal with normal enquiries) I'm not surprised you didn't get a response.
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