The United States Social Security Administration / Windfall Elimination

While you work in the United States, you pay Social Security taxes. If you work for an employer who doesn’t withhold Social Security taxes from your salary, such as a government agency or an employer in another country, any retirement or disability pension you get from that work can reduce your Social Security benefits.

Before you apply for retirement benefits, there are certain Social Security “basics” you should know about:

Your “full retirement age”

Depending on your date of birth, that may be between age 66 and 67. This could affect the amount of your benefits and when you want the benefits to start.

When you can start benefits

You may start receiving benefits as early as age 62 or as late as age 70.

Benefits are reduced for age

Your monthly benefits will be reduced if you start them any time before “full retirement age.”

Working while you receive benefits

If you elect to receive benefits before you reach full retirement age, you should understand how continuing to work can affect your benefits.

Delayed retirement credits

Delayed retirement credits may be added to your benefits if they start after your full retirement age.

Working abroad

When working or living abroad, you will have social security cover by either your home country or the host country. In either case, you’ll need to make arrangements to make sure you stay covered after you move to your new country.

Retirement abroad

Americans retiring abroad may receive Social Security benefits outside the United States as long as they are eligible. To receive Social Security retirement benefits, a worker must have contributed to the Social Security system for a minimum cumulative total of at least 10 years. However, there are several special issues that American expats must first consider. For example, bilateral social security agreements and foreign pension plans can impact the total amount of benefits received.

Life expectancy

Many of us will live much longer than the “average” retiree, and most women live longer than men. More than one in three 65 year olds today will live to age 90, and more than one in seven will live to age 95. Social Security benefits, which last as long as you live, provide valuable protection against outliving savings and other sources of retirement income. Again, you’ll want to choose a retirement age based on your circumstances so you’ll have enough income when you need it.