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Topic: Applying for SS - actual experience  (Read 2372 times)

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Applying for SS - actual experience
« on: July 01, 2021, 03:15:17 PM »
My wife today completed her application for SS benefits to be paid and it went really well so I thought I'd note down the process we went through.

1. In April she contacted the FBU at the US Embassy online using the form below, and asked that she begin to receive her SS
https://uk.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/federal-benefits/fbu_email_enquiry/

2. About 6 weeks later she received a phone call and went through an initial interview, at the end of which they asked to schedule a more complete interview to finish the process.  Today they called her, took all her details including UK Bank Account and sort code. The man was very familiar with the UK OAP and since she was not yet receiving it said that she would begin receiving her SS backdated to the day of her email to them and told her what it would be. It was very similar to the estimate she had on her last estimated benefits letter which had accessed online through her account.  She could have chosen a later date.

3. Once she actually starts receiving her OAP she needs to contact them again and have filled out form SSA-308 (below) and this form contains the dates for which she paid voluntary contributions as they don't count towards the WEP calculation. (Windfall Elimination Provision). He said that they at the FBU would contact the DWP to confirm which contribution years were from paid employment.  Her SS payments would then be reduced accordingly.
https://www.ssa.gov/forms/ssa-308.pdf

4. Although she is a USC she has not registered her citizenship with the SSA and she needs to do this, as do I. He said this won't affect her receipt of SS benefits and the application is now complete and she can expect to see payments arriving in her UK bank account within 6 weeks.
To register our citizenship status we should apply for a new SS card and can do this by completing form SSA-5 and sending it to the US Embassy via the Royal Mail Special Delivery service.
https://www.ssa.gov/forms/ss-5.pdf

​​​​​​​I hope this info is useful for others going through this process.
Dual USC/UKC living in the UK since May 2016


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Re: Applying for SS - actual experience
« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2021, 04:16:19 PM »
Great that this involves speaking with actual people! Sounds so much less stressful to have someone actually explain the process!


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Re: Applying for SS - actual experience
« Reply #2 on: July 01, 2021, 05:10:34 PM »
Great that this involves speaking with actual people! Sounds so much less stressful to have someone actually explain the process!

Both the first and second phone calls were with people who really understood what was needed from folks living in the UK. We had also used this mechanism to apply for and receive our Medicare cards last year. Part A only as we didn't want to pay anything, but it got us registered and known to them. The suggestion to apply for Part A had come from a webinar I attended that had a speaker from the FBU in London.
Dual USC/UKC living in the UK since May 2016


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Re: Applying for SS - actual experience
« Reply #3 on: July 02, 2021, 08:31:44 PM »
Very informative durhamlad. I wonder what would happen if you had a mixed qualifying year. For example 6 months via employment and the remainder via voluntary contributions. Would they drill down to a monthly level for WEP reduction?


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Re: Applying for SS - actual experience
« Reply #4 on: July 02, 2021, 09:19:07 PM »
Very informative durhamlad. I wonder what would happen if you had a mixed qualifying year. For example 6 months via employment and the remainder via voluntary contributions. Would they drill down to a monthly level for WEP reduction?

Good question.

The year I left, 1987, I know that I only paid in 6 months and did not make any NI contributions. That must have been enough because my record shows full year from paid employment.

I think less than a full year made up by a contribution will simply indicate a year made from voluntary contributions I doubt they would break it down into partial years.
Dual USC/UKC living in the UK since May 2016


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Re: Applying for SS - actual experience
« Reply #5 on: July 03, 2021, 11:36:56 AM »
I wonder what would happen if you had a mixed qualifying year. For example 6 months via employment and the remainder via voluntary contributions. Would they drill down to a monthly level for WEP reduction?
By a completely uncanny coincidence, I spent the best part of today working through the Social Security and WEP docs. Basically I've been modelling what happens to my US Social Security in retirement if I fill in some missing years of UK National Insurance payments. I actually have the doc (https://secure.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0200307290#e) that answers your question open in another tab!

WEP is calculated down to the month level.
If a month contains both non-covered and voluntary contributions, the whole month is treated as non-covered.

BTW, if anyone reading this thread is in the same position as me (looking at filling in missing years), be aware the HRMC web page that shows you the gaps you can fill in (https://www.tax.service.gov.uk/check-your-state-pension/account/nirecord/gaps) only shows the price of making voluntary Class 3 contributions (~£800 / year). If you been working abroad, you are likely eligible to pay Class 2 (even if not self-employed) instead. Class 2 is much cheaper (~£160 to fill in a year) and entitles you to more benefits.


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Re: Applying for SS - actual experience
« Reply #6 on: July 03, 2021, 01:01:11 PM »
I did wonder how they worked out split years and now I know! Checking my State Pension record I see that each 'Full Year' shows the amount earned via employment and then the number of weeks for voluntary contributions. Having several hybrid years it will be challenging when it comes to filing SSA-308, but at least they check with DWP. Also knowing that you get none WEP'd SS until you start receiving U.K. State Pension can really make a difference on when to start taking SS.


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Re: Applying for SS - actual experience
« Reply #7 on: July 08, 2021, 02:14:42 PM »
4. Although she is a USC she has not registered her citizenship with the SSA and she needs to do this, as do I. He said this won't affect her receipt of SS benefits and the application is now complete and she can expect to see payments arriving in her UK bank account within 6 weeks.
To register our citizenship status we should apply for a new SS card and can do this by completing form SSA-5 and sending it to the US Embassy via the Royal Mail Special Delivery service.
https://www.ssa.gov/forms/ss-5.pdf

I sent off the passports and SSA-5 forms on Monday 5th July, received image of signature of receipt on Tuesday July 6th and then received the returned passports today via Post Office Special Delivery plus acknowledgement of records being updated. Pleasant surprise that we did not have to provide a self addressed return envelope or cost of return postage.  She also received a paper copy of her application with letter stating that if any of the details are incorrect to call the FBU.

My wife then checked on her SS account online and can see the status of her application.  So far so good and very straightforward.

Quote
We started reviewing your application on July 1, 2021.

A representative in BALTIMORE MARYLAND is reviewing the information you submitted to make sure that you meet the basic requirements for Retirement Benefits.  A Social Security Representative may contact you directly if we need any additional documents or information to help determine if you are eligible.

Please respond timely to any requests from SSA:
Notify us whenever a change occurs that could affect your benefits. Not reporting changes timely may delay the processing of your application.

How to submit additional documents:



 
You may mail any evidence you have to the following address:

OEIO, DIO, IBO
6100 WABASH AVE
BALTIMORE, MD 21215-3757
Dual USC/UKC living in the UK since May 2016


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Re: Applying for SS - actual experience
« Reply #8 on: October 01, 2021, 10:23:50 PM »
3 months later still no progress. A month ago my wife called and spoke at length with someone in SS in the USA. He said that he would flag her application and she would hear something in 7 days. Still no word, just the same status on the website saying it should be completed by end of July.
Dual USC/UKC living in the UK since May 2016


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Re: Applying for SS - actual experience
« Reply #9 on: October 05, 2021, 09:43:43 AM »
3 months later still no progress. A month ago my wife called and spoke at length with someone in SS in the USA. He said that he would flag her application and she would hear something in 7 days. Still no word, just the same status on the website saying it should be completed by end of July.

Which July?   :-\\\\
9/1/2013 - "fiancée" (marriage) visa issued
4/6/2013 - married (certificate issued same-day)
5/6/2013 - FLR(M)#1 in person -- approved!
8/1/2016 - FLR(M)#2 by post -- approved!
8/5/2018 - ILR in person -- approved!
22/11/2018 - Citizenship (online, with NDRS+JCAP) -- approved!
14/12/2018 - I became a British citizen.  :)


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Re: Applying for SS - actual experience
« Reply #10 on: October 05, 2021, 12:09:24 PM »
Which July?   :-\\\\

It does say July this year, but you made me go look.   :D :D
Dual USC/UKC living in the UK since May 2016


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Re: Applying for SS - actual experience
« Reply #11 on: October 05, 2021, 05:34:47 PM »
While going through the process of getting compliant with my tax reporting after many years, I noticed that my social security card was still in an old name from 2 marriages ago  ::)
So I followed the procedure of sending my documents to the US Embassy in London, and they sorted the name change out for me and sent me a new SS card in remarkably quick time... I think it was about a week.

I was just wondering.... trying to scrabble income from anywhere I possibly can!... if I only worked in the US from the age of 15 to 23, am I eligible to claim any benefit from SS when I get to the appropriate age?  And what would that age be?


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Re: Applying for SS - actual experience
« Reply #12 on: October 05, 2021, 07:57:43 PM »
While going through the process of getting compliant with my tax reporting after many years, I noticed that my social security card was still in an old name from 2 marriages ago  ::)
So I followed the procedure of sending my documents to the US Embassy in London, and they sorted the name change out for me and sent me a new SS card in remarkably quick time... I think it was about a week.

I was just wondering.... trying to scrabble income from anywhere I possibly can!... if I only worked in the US from the age of 15 to 23, am I eligible to claim any benefit from SS when I get to the appropriate age?  And what would that age be?

You need 40 quarters (10 years) of contributions to be able to claim SS, so probably not enough credits yet.
Dual USC/UKC living in the UK since May 2016


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Re: Applying for SS - actual experience
« Reply #13 on: October 05, 2021, 10:39:14 PM »
if I only worked in the US from the age of 15 to 23, am I eligible to claim any benefit from SS when I get to the appropriate age?
As per DurhamLad's post, you need 10 years worth of contributions under the US system. The UK pension requires a minimum of 10 years of qualifying years of National Insurance. If you don't have 10 years under either of the UK or US systems, but do have 10 or more years combined, you should be able to combine them for eligibility purposes (but not per-scheme payout purposes). i.e. you would get separate, small, pensions from both. If this is you, Google "UK US Totalization Agreement" (or wade through https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10199.pdf, page 7 onwards).

Note that if you end up with both UK pension and US Social Security payouts, your US Social Security payout will likely be reduced by something called the Windfall Elimination Provision that you'll need a spreadsheet to work out (but never exceeds 50%)

If you've had no UK qualifying employment (i.e. never worked in the UK), the story isn't over yet :-).

You should first check you aren't entitled to 'free' years under the UK system from non-employment activates (such as certain types of child care and unemployment schemes, etc). These activities are listed at https://www.gov.uk/national-insurance-credits/eligibility. It's not a complete list though as I think it only lists the ways credits can be obtained today. We're more interested in credits you accumulated historically (whether you were in the country or not). In particular, if you turned 16 between 1975 and 2007 I would expect you to qualify for 3 years of historic credits due to a policy designed to level the playing field between those leaving school at 16 and those staying on (This was a blanket policy based solely on your birth date. Nationality, location, and whether you were in school or not didn't matter).

If you still don't have 10 combined years, two ways to get additional years under the UK system are:
1. Get a job that pays at least £120/week, or
2. Make voluntary contributions for the missing years. This will probably cost around ~£880 per year. https://www.gov.uk/voluntary-national-insurance-contributions/who-can-pay-voluntary-contributions is a good place to start.

And what would that age be?
If you are disabled, I think you can start claiming at any age. Otherwise the earliest you can claim is 62, but it's at a reduced rate. If you were born after 1960, full rate starts at 67, otherwise enter when you were born into https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/retirement/planner/ageincrease.html to get the full retirement age specific to you. Same page will also show you what the reduction would be if you pick an age between 62 and full retirement age to start claiming.


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Re: Applying for SS - actual experience
« Reply #14 on: October 06, 2021, 02:21:19 PM »
Thanks very much for the responses, DaveB & DurhamLad!


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