The impact of your German pension entitlement your U.S. benefits
If you’re a U.S. citizen who has worked in Germany, it’s important to understand how German social taxes and pensions might affect your U.S. Social Security benefits.
Every year, many Americans working in Germany contribute to the country’s social tax system. Think of these contributions like deposits into a bank account. Once you return to the U.S., you have the option to either withdraw these contributions or receive them as a retirement pension from Germany.
However, what’s less commonly known is the potential impact of a German retirement pension on your U.S. Social Security benefits. This interplay arises from Section 113 of the Social Security Amendments of 1983 (Public Law 98-21), more commonly referred to as the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). If you’re a U.S. citizen entitled to a German pension, it’s crucial to be informed about the WEP.
Under the Windfall Elimination Provision, the U.S. Social Security benefits you receive may be adjusted if you’re also drawing a German pension. But you typically won’t face this reduction if:
- You’ve accumulated 30 or more years of substantial earnings under U.S. Social Security.
- You qualify for U.S. benefits based solely on your U.S. work history (typically around 10 years of employment).
- You qualify for German benefits based solely on your German work history (typically around 5 years of employment).
- The contributions you made in Germany were before 1957.
- Article No. 7(d) of the final protocol of the social security agreement between the U.S. and Germany applies to you.
If the above conditions don’t pertain to your situation, the WEP might come into effect, potentially reducing your U.S. Social Security benefits.
However, there’s a silver lining in the form of the WEP Guarantee. This provision ensures that the difference between your Primary Insurance Amount (PIA) and the WEP-adjusted PIA won’t exceed half of your monthly pension from Germany that isn’t covered by Social Security.
Given the intricacies of this process, it’s advisable to seek professional assistance when applying for your German pension to navigate these complexities effectively.
Do you need help with applying for a survivor’s pension? Contact us today for a consultation!