What Can I Do About The Reduction In My Benefit Rate?

Oct 23 2018 - 7:14am

Hi Larry,
When I first applied for Social Security I completed the application online but had to go into the local office because I mentioned my UK pension. I had only just qualified for the UK pension with a total of 10 years working in the UK and Canada. The remainder of my work life was in the USA. The local office told me they had to reduce my social security payments because of my UK pension. I never felt comfortable about that - after all, I'd paid into the system whether here or in the UK or Canada. I have never worked for a government agency, so I don't understand the reason for lowering my social security retirement benefits. What can I do, and if it is found to be wrong, can I get back payment?
Thank you for your help.


I can't say for sure without more details, but the reduction you refer to is probably correct. The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) can result in the use of a less generous Social Security retirement benefit calculation formula for people who receive a pension based on their work that was exempt from Social Security taxes. So, it sounds like your UK/Canadian pension would probably cause you to receive a lower U.S. Social Security benefit than you would otherwise receive if you weren't receiving the non-covered pension.

There are exceptions to WEP, though, and if you meet any of those exceptions it's possible that you could be exempt from the lower WEP rate. In that case, it would also be possible to have your benefit rate corrected retroactively and get back pay. The exceptions to WEP are outlined in the following Social Security publication: https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10045.pdf.

Best, Jerry