Social Security and The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP)
Americans abroad should not be penalized simply because they spent part of their careers abroad or because they retire abroad. ACA supports legislation which would eliminate the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). Americans abroad should also have dedicated support from the Social Security Administration for accessing their benefits.
The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) reduces the Social Security (SS) benefits for individuals by up to 50% of their foreign pension benefits. The WEP impact is reduced by the number of years an individual has contributed to Social Security and only applies to individuals with foreign pensions who have contributed for between 10-29 years to Social Security with the maximum monthly reduction (2016) being the lower of $428 and 50% of your foreign pension benefit.
Self-employed Americans living abroad often must pay SECA taxes in addition to the social security taxes they pay in their country of residence. No voluntary program exists for non-self-employed Americans to contribute to the Social Security system.
Foreign spouses and adopted children of Americans are often denied survivor benefits. (For more detailed discussion please see: Eliminate Deficiencies of the Social Security System (Feb. 2015) and ACA’s Position on Social Security Issues and the Overseas American.
Social Security should provide dedicated support to Americans overseas who are accessing Social Security benefits. This includes on-line viewing of their accounts, assistance for first-time applications for Social Security numbers and a dedicated out reach for overseas Americans with questions and problems. Currently Social Security services are provided through the Federal Benefits Units located in US Consulates and Embassies. With more and more individuals coming into compliance and needing assistance with Obtaining or reclaiming Social Security numbers and with questions on their benefits, the Social Security Administration needs to expand its out-reach and provide more direct assistance.
Legislation calling for the full repeal of WEP was introduced in the House on January 4, 2021 Text - H.R.82 - 117th Congress (2021-2022): Social Security Fairness Act of 2021 | Congress.gov | Library of Congress A Senate bill was also introduced on April 22, 2021 S.1302 - 117th Congress (2021-2022): Social Security Fairness Act | Congress.gov | Library of Congress
ACA supports the bills for repeal of the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and stresses that both the House and Senate bills need to insure repeal of the WEP for US citizens overseas who receive benefits from foriegn pensions which can trigger the WEP application of reduced benefits to their US Social Security benefits.
- General Information about Social Security (paying, receiving, foreign pensions, totalization, WEP, tax implications, "My account," etc.)
- Obtaining/Reclaiming your Social Security Number (SSN)
- Otaining your Social Security Number from overseas
- Social Security FAQ
- Social Security Numbers and US Passports
This ACA webpage was updated in August 2019