Will my foreign pension lower my American Social Security benefits? What about my spousal benefits?

Published: March 13, 2023

Full question: If my spousal SS benefit is higher than SS benefit based on own contribution (> 40 credit) would a foreign pension of a country with a totalization agreement lower US social security benefits?


That is a great question.

Generally speaking, foreign pensions do not affect Social Security spousal and survivor dependent benefits.

However, when you apply for Social Security benefits, you are “deemed” to be filing for all the benefits you are entitled to. Therefore if entitled to your own retirement benefit and a spousal benefit, the SSA pays your own retirement benefit amount first. A “bump up” amount of spousal or survivor benefit is them paid on top of that amount.

Therefore, the retirement portion of your total benefit may be entitled to the Windfall Elimination Provision, WEP.

The impact of your circumstances is a bit more complex with the totalization agreement and it is hard to tell what impact you may have without knowing your situation a bit more. We would be happy to provide a detailed Social Security analysis for you to you can see the exact amount you are entitled to and when to collect. Feel free to reach out to our team of analysts by emailing us at help@rssa.com.

Take care,

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