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UK state pension and USA social security

UK state pension and USA social security

Old Jan 26th 2020, 1:25 pm
  #1636  
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Default Re: UK state pension and USA social security

Thank you retman. I'm in the UK so don't have a local SS office. I've been dealing with the FBU at the US embassy in London via email and their online form. They replied initially and copied my state pension information six months ago. My concern is I've not had a reply to several emails asking for an update on when I'll be told the WEP reduction amount. I still believe though that WEP on a govt pension is unfair. It's not a windfall, it's payment from my govt that I paid into, and the amount I paid into the SS system is the same as it was up until I started getting my UK pension. But I know I'm flogging a dead horse. Rules are rules even if they don't always make sense. In the meantime I need to contact someone other than the London FBU before I owe too much more. Thanks again.
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Old Jan 26th 2020, 2:05 pm
  #1637  
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Default Re: UK state pension and USA social security

I suggest calling the SSA direct on 1-800-772-1213. You may have to hold. I did for about 5 minutes. They took my details over the phone initially. I believe you can transact business by email and fax in order to send any information.
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Old Jan 26th 2020, 3:03 pm
  #1638  
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Default Re: UK state pension and USA social security

Originally Posted by Butwhy View Post
However, I have contacted the FBU with all the details several times in the last 6 months but have still not been told how much my SS reduction will be. Is this a usual amount of time?
I’m 69, I started to receive my SS benefits at age 64, and my British State Pension at age 68. (I got a really substantial increase in the British one by deferring three years.)

Over the last five years, I’ve three times responded to the SS questionnaire that they send, to give them the required information so they can WEP me. I’ve never heard back from them, and my SS hasn’t been WEPed. In two other instances, they responded correctly and promptly. (To deduct my Pt. B premium, and to deduct a voluntary tax withholding that I requested.)

I can only assume that they don’t have adequate staff for this task, or maybe that they write off to the British to check my record, and it gets lost in the undergrowth.
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Old Jan 26th 2020, 3:13 pm
  #1639  
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Default Re: UK state pension and USA social security

Originally Posted by Butwhy View Post
Thank you retman. I'm in the UK so don't have a local SS office. I've been dealing with the FBU at the US embassy in London via email and their online form. They replied initially and copied my state pension information six months ago. My concern is I've not had a reply to several emails asking for an update on when I'll be told the WEP reduction amount. I still believe though that WEP on a govt pension is unfair. It's not a windfall, it's payment from my govt that I paid into, and the amount I paid into the SS system is the same as it was up until I started getting my UK pension. But I know I'm flogging a dead horse. Rules are rules even if they don't always make sense. In the meantime I need to contact someone other than the London FBU before I owe too much more. Thanks again.
The WEPing is because of how Social Security is weighted towards giving more to people who worked all their lives on low incomes. Someone with 35 years of credits based on minimum or low retail wages will end up with a SS pension that’s almost as much as what they earned each month. A higher earner, who actually paid far more into the system than their minimum wage neighbor, will have a SS pension that’s perhaps 20% of what they earned each month. It’s designed to be distributive in this way, through what are called ‘bend points’.

The reason for WEP in a situation like yours, is because the calculation will take your earnings over 20 years and spread them across 35, making it appear that your average annual income during your working life was far lower than it actually was. If SS is your only source of retirement income - maybe due to working life periods of illness, unemployment, caring duties, etc - then the amount is not adjusted because the whole point of SS is to provide a certain bare minimum standard of life to the elderly.

But if, outside of those 20 years, you accrued benefits elsewhere, then you’d have a much higher total retirement income than the algorithm is set to calculate. You’d be getting SS as if you were a low earner who worked 35 years, and unfairly benefitting from a surprisingly (in the US) redistributive element that didn’t apply to you. Because outside of those 20 years, you benefited from being able to accrue credits in an alternative pension scheme, you don’t need the generous SS benefit of a minimum wage earner, versus what you actually paid in as SS taxes, to keep you above the poverty line.

What the WEP is actually doing is re-setting the algorithm, and giving you a SS benefit that’s closer to being based on the 20 years you actually paid into the US system, rather than the default of annualizing your income across the usual 35 years. It’s not trying to be unfair to you, it’s trying to not be unfair to everyone else who contributes, which it would be if it inflated you up to a higher retirement income that you actually need.

It’s actually rather nice that if you genuinely only had worked for 20 years for some reason, the calculation would give you a more generous SS income as a percentage of what you’d earned during those years, and that this is effectively the higher contributions of the higher earners being funneled towards the poorer, lower-contributing retirees. I’m assuming most Americans don’t understand that this is going on, because I don’t hear regular cries of ‘Socialism!’ about it.
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Old Jan 26th 2020, 3:39 pm
  #1640  
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Default Re: UK state pension and USA social security

Thanks again. But 1 800 numbers can't be called from outside the US. Equally you can't use the online my SSA service if you don't have a US zip code. I've printed a letter today that I'll post to Baltimore tomorrow.
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Old Jan 26th 2020, 3:43 pm
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Default Re: UK state pension and USA social security

Interesting. During the various phone conversations when I first claimed my SS payments, 4 years ago, I was warned in no uncertain terms that if I didn't tell them when I started getting my UK pension, and they found out, I'd be fined. Which is why I'm so anxious to let them know. I've tried, I swear! I have documented proof!
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Old Jan 26th 2020, 3:46 pm
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Default Re: UK state pension and USA social security

Originally Posted by Butwhy View Post
Interesting. During the various phone conversations when I first claimed my SS payments, 4 years ago, I was warned in no uncertain terms that if I didn't tell them when I started getting my UK pension, and they found out, I'd be fined. Which is why I'm so anxious to let them know. I've tried, I swear! I have documented proof!
Yes, agreed, it’s important to try to comply. I feel that by responding to their questionnaires several times, I’ve done all I can.
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Old Jan 26th 2020, 3:49 pm
  #1643  
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Default Re: UK state pension and USA social security

Thank you! That is the clearest explanation I've seen! It makes more sense. I actually lived and worked there for 30 years, but short-sightedly didn't pay contributions during the years I was self employed. Ironically, if I had, I think I'd be in the category where they reduce the amount less ( if I understand the convoluted rules that is). Still, it's not all about money, and I'm not on the breadline. There are many far worse off than me.
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Old Jan 26th 2020, 4:53 pm
  #1644  
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Default Re: UK state pension and USA social security

ButWhy, if SSA apply the W.E.P. To your social security check, the reduction will be no more than 50% of your weekly U.K. Pension.
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Old Jan 26th 2020, 5:23 pm
  #1645  
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Default Re: UK state pension and USA social security

Originally Posted by nearpost1 View Post
ButWhy, if SSA apply the W.E.P. To your social security check, the reduction will be no more than 50% of your weekly U.K. Pension.
And it maxes out at reducing your SS by no more than $480 a month currently. I work on the assumption that my SS will be reduced by that full amount* because of the UK state pension; if it’s less, then that’ll be a bonus.

(*My SS will ultimately come from my ex-husband’s contribution record and the WEP that gets applied to him based on whether he chooses to make more voluntary contributions over the next 15 years, how he annuitizes his existing UK personal pensions, etc. This will then reduce the 50% spousal benefit that I’ll get - I assume worst case and will then be pleasantly surprised if it’s less).
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Old Jan 26th 2020, 5:25 pm
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Default Re: UK state pension and USA social security

Originally Posted by Butwhy View Post
Thank you! That is the clearest explanation I've seen! It makes more sense. I actually lived and worked there for 30 years, but short-sightedly didn't pay contributions during the years I was self employed. Ironically, if I had, I think I'd be in the category where they reduce the amount less ( if I understand the convoluted rules that is). Still, it's not all about money, and I'm not on the breadline. There are many far worse off than me.
I went through exactly the same ‘hey, that’s unfair!’, but after researching and understanding how the whole system works, I now feel much better about the reason for the reduction in ‘my’ future money 🙂
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Old Jan 26th 2020, 5:39 pm
  #1647  
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Default Re: UK state pension and USA social security

I must admit that this whole WEP thing takes some work to understand. To that end, can I just check...

The UK state pension counts in the calculations. Understood.

I presume equivalent state pensions from other non-US countries also count?

Occupational pensions - from UK employment back when - do they count?

Thanks for whoever patiently answers these basic questions...
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Old Jan 26th 2020, 6:00 pm
  #1648  
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Default Re: UK state pension and USA social security

Originally Posted by Butwhy View Post
Thank you retman. I'm in the UK so don't have a local SS office. I've been dealing with the FBU at the US embassy in London via email and their online form. They replied initially and copied my state pension information six months ago. My concern is I've not had a reply to several emails asking for an update on when I'll be told the WEP reduction amount. I still believe though that WEP on a govt pension is unfair. It's not a windfall, it's payment from my govt that I paid into, and the amount I paid into the SS system is the same as it was up until I started getting my UK pension. But I know I'm flogging a dead horse. Rules are rules even if they don't always make sense. In the meantime I need to contact someone other than the London FBU before I owe too much more. Thanks again.
Actually for anyone who may know answer .If one receives social security but resident in Uk I understand per tax treaty not taxed in USA, but one still has to file USA return is the social security not shown or on the line for social security non taxable ? Are any other steps required to not pay tax on the social security receive abroad when filing US tax return.


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Old Jan 26th 2020, 6:57 pm
  #1649  
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Default Re: UK state pension and USA social security

Originally Posted by celticgrid View Post
I must admit that this whole WEP thing takes some work to understand. To that end, can I just check...

The UK state pension counts in the calculations. Understood.

I presume equivalent state pensions from other non-US countries also count?

Occupational pensions - from UK employment back when - do they count?

Thanks for whoever patiently answers these basic questions...
Yes, it’s applied for any pension resulting from earnings on which SS contributions were not made.
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Old Jan 26th 2020, 7:10 pm
  #1650  
 
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Default Re: UK state pension and USA social security

Originally Posted by Butwhy View Post
However, I have contacted the FBU with all the details several times in the last 6 months but have still not been told how much my SS reduction will be.
You can work it out for yourself using the online SS calculator which takes into account WEP. Use the link below.

https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/anyPiaWepjs04.html
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