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Topic: Social Security questions  (Read 582 times)

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Social Security questions
« on: May 03, 2019, 05:21:52 PM »
The first question I have is how best to apply for it and get it paid into our UK bank account. (My wife and I both live in England and are dual citizens). The US embassy in London has a Federal Benefits section with an option to contact them via email. I tried this a week or so back and haven’t had a reply.

https://uk.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/federal-benefits/

Do folks simply apply online on the normal SS website? I thought maybe going via the Federal Benefits section of the US Embassy would have been easier for residents here.

The second question is about WEP. Is there a form on which pensions such as the OAP are listed?
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Re: Social Security questions
« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2019, 05:58:54 PM »
The first question I have is how best to apply for it and get it paid into our UK bank account. (My wife and I both live in England and are dual citizens). The US embassy in London has a Federal Benefits section with an option to contact them via email. I tried this a week or so back and haven’t had a reply.

https://uk.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/federal-benefits/

Do folks simply apply online on the normal SS website? I thought maybe going via the Federal Benefits section of the US Embassy would have been easier for residents here.

The second question is about WEP. Is there a form on which pensions such as the OAP are listed?

The Federal Benefits Unit has a phone number that always says to ring back during operating hours, and the online contact form that takes two orthree weeks to get a response from.  If your initial inquiry was detailed enough, they will send you pdfs of whatever forms you need in a somewhat terse reply.
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Re: Social Security questions
« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2019, 07:32:57 PM »
The Federal Benefits Unit has a phone number that always says to ring back during operating hours, and the online contact form that takes two orthree weeks to get a response from.  If your initial inquiry was detailed enough, they will send you pdfs of whatever forms you need in a somewhat terse reply.

Thanks for that. It has only been 10 days since I contacted them so I guess I just need to be patient.
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Re: Social Security questions
« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2019, 08:24:00 PM »
This is years ago, so it may be out of date.

I called and let the phone ring for about 10 minutes, but someone did eventually answer and start the ball rolling.

The FBU London service a number of countries in addition to the UK, some in Africa, and one would imagine staffing levels were not overly generous to start with.

Your first contact with SSA, whether online or on the phone is only for initial contact. From experience of friends, don't contact them before you are ready to start collecting SS. Once contacted, if you're over 62, they will encourage you (somewhat strongly) to start the application. After the initial contact, the real conversation results from a phone call they make to you at a pre-arranged time. It's during this telephone interview your WEP situation will be discussed, although it won't be called that. They'll want to know about all other pensions you are in receipt of, and what pensions you will be in receipt of in the future. They'll also ask about voluntary contributions to those pensions (in your case, the UK State Pension). During my conversation, a recording was made (under perjury, with my agreement) in which you swore all information given was correct. You also provide banking details at this time (or in the follow up paperwork, I forget which).

They then send you an official copy of all information and the application which you sign (under perjury) and return. In a matter of time, the payments begin. After the initial 10 min wait on the phone, the rest went very smoothly, and according the schedule they laid out.

Once contact is made, you should have no problems. BTW, you may also contact the SSA International Office in Baltimore to also start the ball rolling, but my guess is a telephone interview would still be required.


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Re: Social Security questions
« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2019, 08:59:01 PM »
Thanks OAP,  great info as always.  I do recall being warned about not inquiring before ready to start collecting so that is a good reminder. My wife will actually be first to apply so I will need to coach her well. She will by then be in receipt of her UK OAP based on 31 years, of which 14 years will be voluntary contributions.
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Re: Social Security questions
« Reply #5 on: May 08, 2019, 11:57:54 AM »
FYI, I received a reply from the FBU at the US Embassy in London with the details of what to send them and confirmation that they will phone as per OAP's experience.

Quote
Dear  Alan
 

Thank you for your email.

 

To enable the Federal Benefits Unit to assist you in filing a claim for Social Security benefits, please provide the following information:

 

•           Your full name:

•           Your date of birth:

•           The last 4 numbers of your social security number (if known):

•           If you have worked in the UK, what is your National Insurance Number?

•           Are you working more than 45 hours each month?

•           Are you disabled?

•           The name of your spouse:

•           Spouse’s date of birth:

•           The last 4 numbers of your spouse’s U.S. Social Security Number (if known):

•           Is your spouse working more than 45 hours each month?

•           Do you have dependent or disabled children?

•           Your full address:

•           Your daytime telephone number:

•           Alternative telephone number:

 

We will call you within 30 business days to arrange a convenient telephone appointment to file your claim.

 

Federal Benefits Unit (fa)

 

United States Embassy

33 Nine Elms Lane

London

SW11 7US

UK
Dual USC/UKC living in the UK since May 2016


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Re: Social Security questions
« Reply #6 on: June 22, 2019, 05:00:57 PM »
I'm in a very similar boat to you @durhamlad, so I'm very interested in this topic.  I intend taking my SS pension as soon as possible after turning 62.  Given that they say in their response that they'll contact you within 30 days, at what point around your 62nd birthday would you contact them first?  My birthday's towards the end of September.  I've read elsewhere (I think on the SSA website) that you should make contact 4 months before wishing to take your pension.  I vaguely also remember reading somewhere that for someone who turns 62 in September, the first payment would be in November.
« Last Edit: June 22, 2019, 09:11:05 PM by crowman »


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Re: Social Security questions
« Reply #7 on: June 22, 2019, 10:27:05 PM »
I've hopefully just finalised my SS this afternoon. Birthday is in early July. So far my steps......

1. Filled out online SS form through the SS website about 2 months ago. I could not set up a "My SS" account without a US address.  But it looked like they took the request and I got something back.....I think just a generic reply.
2. Late May I called the SS office in London (Durhamlad pointed me this way) just wondering if everything was going ok. I got through reasonably painlessly and a man told me he could see my online request was in the system and that if I hadn't received a phone call from SS by 15 June to give the London office another call.
3. Called Thursday? of this week (since I hadn't heard anything) and talked to a lady who immediately sent off an email to the main office in the US. I got an email response from a lady there within the hour. She set up a time to call me today.
4. She completed the SS action right then after talking to me and asking a number of questions.
5. I should get something in the mail within 10 working days with my finalised SS amount etc etc.
6. Birthday the first week of July.......first money will get into my UK bank account at the start of Sept.

I also asked the lady if there was anything special I would need to do when my UK wife was eligible for spousal SS in a few years. I was told there is a form online to fill out.....she will need a US SS number (which she does)......and she would also get "the phone call" to finalise things.

Overall I am reasonably pleased with how things have gone so far. If the mailed confirmation shows up in the next 2 weeks I would figure I'm good to go.
Fred


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Re: Social Security questions
« Reply #8 on: June 22, 2019, 10:48:58 PM »
Great summary, thanks for that update.
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Re: Social Security questions
« Reply #9 on: June 22, 2019, 11:15:54 PM »
I've hopefully just finalised my SS this afternoon. Birthday is in early July. So far my steps......

1. Filled out online SS form through the SS website about 2 months ago. I could not set up a "My SS" account without a US address.  But it looked like they took the request and I got something back.....I think just a generic reply.
2. Late May I called the SS office in London (Durhamlad pointed me this way) just wondering if everything was going ok. I got through reasonably painlessly and a man told me he could see my online request was in the system and that if I hadn't received a phone call from SS by 15 June to give the London office another call.
3. Called Thursday? of this week (since I hadn't heard anything) and talked to a lady who immediately sent off an email to the main office in the US. I got an email response from a lady there within the hour. She set up a time to call me today.
4. She completed the SS action right then after talking to me and asking a number of questions.
5. I should get something in the mail within 10 working days with my finalised SS amount etc etc.
6. Birthday the first week of July.......first money will get into my UK bank account at the start of Sept.

I also asked the lady if there was anything special I would need to do when my UK wife was eligible for spousal SS in a few years. I was told there is a form online to fill out.....she will need a US SS number (which she does)......and she would also get "the phone call" to finalise things.

Overall I am reasonably pleased with how things have gone so far. If the mailed confirmation shows up in the next 2 weeks I would figure I'm good to go.

So, it looks like you started the process about 3 months before your birthday.  Is that correct?

Given that mine is late September, I guess I should start shortly.

I'm assuming the online form you fill in is here:
https://uk.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/filing_for_benefits_form/
which basically asks the questions that @durhamlad received by email.

The only slight doubt for me is that that form is in the US citizens part of their website.  I'm not a US citizen, just UK.  Do you think it's the same form, regardless?


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Re: Social Security questions
« Reply #10 on: June 23, 2019, 08:42:17 AM »
I tried a couple of times looking at the forms through the SS site. It won't let me in saying it's not open at this time.....kind of weird for an online site.  The form you linked doesn't have as much as I filled out. I can't remember the details but I put in my UK bank info as well and didn't see any place on that form you had that included that type of info....unless there was a link beyond that page to something with more info requests.

I've no idea about being a UK citizen. Durhamlad has both, so he would be paying more attention than me about that kind of thing.

I called this London US embassy number (020 7499 9000) to get someone the first time. This last time I couldn't get through and generic voice machine of doom gave me another choice of 020 7891 3926....and I just waited a couple minutes to talk to someone. I would probably just do that if you want a fairly quick answer to your questions. This is the page I got the first number from https://uk.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/federal-benefits/contacting-the-london-federal-benefits-unit/
Fred


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Re: Social Security questions
« Reply #11 on: June 23, 2019, 09:51:00 AM »
I tried a couple of times looking at the forms through the SS site. It won't let me in saying it's not open at this time.....kind of weird for an online site.  The form you linked doesn't have as much as I filled out. I can't remember the details but I put in my UK bank info as well and didn't see any place on that form you had that included that type of info....unless there was a link beyond that page to something with more info requests.

I've no idea about being a UK citizen. Durhamlad has both, so he would be paying more attention than me about that kind of thing.

I called this London US embassy number (020 7499 9000) to get someone the first time. This last time I couldn't get through and generic voice machine of doom gave me another choice of 020 7891 3926....and I just waited a couple minutes to talk to someone. I would probably just do that if you want a fairly quick answer to your questions. This is the page I got the first number from https://uk.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/federal-benefits/contacting-the-london-federal-benefits-unit/

Thanks.  With regards the form I linked to, I assume that it is the form for initial contact with the embassy only.  Obviously, there is further paperwork to submit later on, not least something that specifies your bank account details.


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Re: Social Security questions
« Reply #12 on: June 23, 2019, 10:05:44 AM »
I don't know which site you have gone to. I just went to the USA SS website......at the bottom of that page there is a list of things you can do. One of the choices is Retirement. When I click on that page it sends me to a page that has a blue button that says Apply for Retirement Benefits. All I get up is a notice stating that things won't open today until 1pm our time here in the UK. I can't remember what that page looks like.....and I won't be able to look at it until after 1pm. This form has nothing to do with the London embassy..... I only called the London embassy to check and try and get more information on whether my request was being worked on or not.
Fred


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Re: Social Security questions
« Reply #13 on: June 23, 2019, 10:27:33 AM »
Ah OK.  I'm looking at the US Embassy in London's own website.  I put the link in my post.


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Re: Social Security questions
« Reply #14 on: June 23, 2019, 10:37:56 AM »

The only slight doubt for me is that that form is in the US citizens part of their website.  I'm not a US citizen, just UK.  Do you think it's the same form, regardless?

I would think that it is the same form as the benefits are the same regardless of citizenship, plus the form does provide fields for one to enter UK address, UK NI number etc.  I can't think what else a UK citizen only form would ask for.  The US SSN will provide all the details needed at the US end and the NI number similar information at the UK end.

At the end of the day you should be receiving a phone call to discuss the application in more detail anyway. Eventually they are going to want details of your UK OAP to calculate how much WEP will reduce your SS hence, I think, the request for your NI number.
« Last Edit: June 23, 2019, 10:40:09 AM by durhamlad »
Dual USC/UKC living in the UK since May 2016


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