I worked in the US for 7 years and then moved to the UK in 1985 and worked there until I moved back to the US in 2016, where I am now working again. Right now, according to Social Security, I did not work between 1985 and 2016. I understand that there is a reciprocal agreement between the US and UK. Can I get social security credit for my National Insurance contributions in the UK? I'm almost 69, so will need to start taking social security in about a year and a half. Thank you.
Hi. If you have fewer than 40 quarters (QC) of U.S. Social Security coverage, then your UK contributions could be used to make you eligible for a totalization benefit (https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0201701125) from the U.S. However, if you have at least 40 U.S. QCs without needing to count your UK earnings, then your U.S. Social Security retirement benefit rate will be calculated using the normal benefit computation method.
Social Security retirement benefits are based on an average of a person's highest 35 years of Social Security covered wage-indexed earnings, and if you have fewer than 35 years of U.S. earnings then zero earnings years will be included in the averaging. That would reduce your yearly average earnings, which in turn would mean a lower benefit rate. Your UK earnings can't be used in computing your U.S. benefit rate.
Additionally, there is a Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) that could further lower your U.S. Social Security benefit if you receive a pension based on your work in the U.K. (https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10045.pdf). WEP can cause a person's benefit rate to be calculated using a less generous benefit calculation formula than the one that's normally used.
Our software is programmed to calculate both WEP and non-WEP benefit calculations, although it does not calculate totalization benefit rates. Assuming that you have at least 40 QCs, though, you may want to consider using the Social Security benefit calculator included in our software (https://maximizemysocialsecurity.com/purchase) to find out how much you can expect to receive when you apply for benefits.