Ask Larry

Am I Required To Apply For U.S. Social Security?

Hi Larry,

I'm a US citizen and worked at a minimum wage job in the US for about 5 or 6 years until 1984, when I moved to Belgium. My SS contributions stopped when I moved to Belgium.

I made my career here, paid into Belgian SS and the pension plans of my employers until my retirement in 2022. I'm now receiving the benefit of those pensions.

Since I only worked in the US for 5 or 6 years, I don't have enough quarters to get any SS and was NOT planning to request it.

I just got off a webinar about WEP/GPO and am wondering if, somehow, could that affect my Belgian pension?

If I don't apply for US SS, how could it?

Do I HAVE to apply for US SS, even if I don't have enough quarters?

Thanks in advance.


Hi Russell. You certainly aren't required to apply for benefits from the U.S. as far as U.S. Social Security regulations are concerned. However, by not applying you may be forfeiting benefits to which you're entitled. People can qualify for a totalization benefit from the U.S. with as few as 6 U.S. quarters of coverage (QC) provided that they've also earned enough credits to be insured under another country's Social Security program that has a totalization agreement with the U.S. The U.S. program does have a totalization agreement with Belgium, so it sounds like your work in both countries would probably entitle you a U.S. totalization benefit should you choose to apply (

My expertise doesn't extend to Belgian pension regulations, though, so I don't know what their regulations may require of you. Nor do I know whether or not your Belgian pension could be reduced if you receive a Social Security benefit from the U.S. I can tell you that your Belgian pension would have no adverse effect on your potential U.S. totalization benefit, but I don't know if the reverse is true. You might want to check with the people who administer Belgium's Social Security program to discuss your options with them.

Best, Jerry

Apr 1 2023 - 1:55pm
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