Social Security Income and International Agreements

Getting ready to collect your Social Security Benefits? If you spent part of your working life outside of the U.S., you may have more benefits than you think.

The U.S. has concluded Social Security agreements[1] with a number of other countries that help you avoid double taxation if you are still working abroad – but also to help protect your Social Security Income Benefits. That is because your work overseas may help you to qualify for U.S. benefits if that work was covered under a foreign Social Security system.

One of the main purposes of the international agreements is to help people who have worked in both the United States and another country, but who have not worked long enough in one country or the other to qualify for Social Security benefits. Under an international agreement, the U.S. Social Security System will count your work credits in the other country if this will help you qualify for your U.S. benefits. However, if you already have enough credit under U.S. Social Security to qualify for a benefit, they will not count your credits in the other country.

If they do have to count your foreign work credits, you will receive a partial U.S. benefit that is related to the length of time you worked under U.S. Social Security. Although they may count your work credits in the other country, your credits are not actually transferred from that country to the United States. They remain on your record in the other country. It is therefore possible for you to qualify for a separate benefit payment from both countries.

Agreement Countries
Country Effective Date
Australia Oct. 1, 2002
Austria Nov. 1, 1991
Belgium July 1, 1984
Canada Aug. 1, 1984
Chile Dec. 1, 2001
Czech Republic Jan. 1, 2009
Denmark Oct. 1, 2008
Finland Nov. 1, 1992
France July 1, 1988
Germany Dec. 1, 1979
Greece Sept. 1, 1994
Ireland Sept. 1, 1993
Italy Nov. 1, 1978
Japan Oct. 1, 2005
Korea (South) April 1, 2001
Luxembourg Nov. 1, 1993
Netherlands Nov. 1, 1990
Norway July 1, 1984
Poland March 1, 2009
Portugal Aug. 1, 1989
Spain April 1, 1988
Sweden Jan. 1, 1987
Switzerland Nov. 1, 1980
United Kingdom Jan. 1, 1985


The table lists the countries which the U.S. has Social Security agreements with and shows the effective date of each. Be sure you get credit for foreign-based work you have done in the past.

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[1]  As of 1/22/14