Should I File For Totalization Benefits?

Category: 
May 2 2018 - 6:37pm

Dear Larry, I filed for spousal benefits online following the information that you gave me regarding my UK Pension. I quote your reply :- Your UK pension would have no bearing on your eligibility for spousal benefits nor your benefit rate. Foreign pensions are not considered as government pensions for purposes of the GPO provision, as is specified in the first bullet of section B of the following reference from Social Security's operations manual : https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0202608400 . I was asked to attend my local Social Security office and they advised me the only way I can get spousal pension is through totalisation of my UK work credits with the few US credits that I have. They said I may be able to get a US pension in my own rights if I do this as at the moment I cannot file for spousal benefit. I am rather distraught as they told me they wouldn't be able to tell me what pension I would receive if I went ahead with this. They want me to call them next week to let them know if I want to go ahead with this totalisation or to scrap my spousal benefit application.
Yours Sincerely
Arthur

Hi Arthur,

If you qualify for spousal benefits and you have enough US work credits to qualify for a totalization benefit then you must either file for both benefits or neither one (https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0200204035). Your combined benefit rate should be no less than what you would receive if you filed just for spousal benefits only, though, so I don't know of any downside to filing. As I answered previously, your UK pension does not count as a government pension for purposes of the Government Pension Offset (GPO) provision so it will have no effect on your spousal rate. Your benefits would be reduced for age, however, if you file for benefits prior to your full retirement age.

Best, Jerry