Ask Rusty – Will Foreign Earnings Count toward my U.S. Social Security?

Social Security Matters

Dear Rusty: I am looking for advice on how our recent decision to take up work in the United Kingdom will affect our U.S. Social Security benefits. I want to understand whether we need to be prepared for a loss in future Social Security benefits, in comparison to what we’d get by continuing to work in the U.S. Signed: Working Abroad

Dear Working Abroad: I’ll start by noting that the U.S. and the U.K. have a bilateral “totalization” agreement which helps those who have worked in both countries qualify for Social Security benefits in the other, but this relates only to you earning enough credits to be eligible for benefits. Your foreign earned income won’t be included when computing your U.S. Social Security benefits.

Under the “totalization agreement if, from your work in the U.S., you have earned only 30 credits toward the 40 needed to qualify for U.S. Social Security benefits, and you went to work in the U.K. and earned 10 credits toward the U.K.’s eligibility requirement, those 10 U.K. credits would be added to your 30 U.S. credits to give you the 40 needed to be eligible for U.S. Social Security benefits. However, your U.S. Social Security benefit when it is claimed would be based upon your U.S. earned income only and would not include your U.K. earned income.


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