Social Security

What is the problem?

US citizens living and working abroad are often invested in foreign pension plans, many mandated by the governments in the country where they live and work. These same US citizens may have paid into US Social Security and count on both systems when they retire. 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. US citizens overseas 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.

Social Security should provide dedicated support to US citizens 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 outreach for overseas Americans with questions and problems. Currently Social Security services are provided through the Federal Benefits Units (FBU) located in US Consulates and Embassies, many which have been closed or consolidated in recent years. For more information, see Social Security Benefits While Overseas.

What we are doing about it?

ACA is advocating for Representatives on two pieces of legislation for repeal of the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and stresses that both the House and Senate bills need to ensure repeal of the WEP for US citizens overseas who receive benefits from foreign pensions which can trigger the WEP application of reduced benefits to their US Social Security benefits. 

ACA is working with Social Security and the US State Department (FBUs in Embassies and Consulates) to insure that services are made available to US citizens overseas.

How can you help?

What has been achieved so far?

Legislation calling for the full repeal of WEP was introduced in the last Congress (117th). This legislation has been reintroduced in the new 118th Congress under House bill H.R.82 - Social Security Fairness Act of 2023 as well as the Senate version and S.597 - A bill to amend title II of the Social Security Act to repeal the Government pension offset and windfall elimination provisions. Hearings have been held by the House Ways& Means Committee and there is strong bi-partisan support and the bill is making its way through Congress and awaiting mark-up.

US citizens living overseas can now create a personal my Social Security account and access many of our online services using their credential. 

View our submissions to Congress on this issue and others here

How can I find out more?

In this Section

Guidance for obtaining your Social Security Number from Overseas

Totalization Agreements: A quick review

Social Security Benefits While Overseas