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Americans abroad should not be penalized simply because they spent part of their careers abroad, or because they retire abroad and/or have a foreign spouse or adopted children. ACA supports the Social Security Fairness Act, which would eliminate the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). Americans abroad should also have dedicated support from the Social Security Administration for accessing their benefits.

Executive summary

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 SS and only applies to individuals with foreign pensions who have contributed for between 10-29 years to SS 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.



This ACA webpage was updated in October 2016