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Alexia Esq.
Alexia Esq., Managing Attorney
Category: Legal
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Experience:  19 Years of Legal Practice Experience in this precise field.
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I worked for almost 40 years in Russia and earned there a small

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I worked for almost 40 years in Russia and earned there a small retirement pesion. At age 54 i moved to USA and started to work here. Now I am reaching the age 66 and I applied to my Social Security benefits. Social Security office, analysing my application, decided to reduce my Social Security benefits because I got pension in Russia. I am not sure that this decigion is correct. Assume, I would work all this time here in USA. My Social Security benefits would be higher. And, just because of the fact that I worked this time in other country, paid Social taxes there and earned based on this paiment pansion, my benefits here are reduced. I see no logic. Can you clarify, if the law interpreted by Social Security Administartion correctly?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Alexia Esq. replied 4 years ago.
Hi, thanks for your inquiry! I have been practicing law for 17+ years and have specific experience with issues similar to yours. That being said.. With regard to your post.


I worked for almost 40 years in Russia and earned there a small retirement pesion. At age 54 i moved to USA and started to work here. Now I am reaching the age 66 and I applied to my Social Security benefits. Social Security office, analysing my application, decided to reduce my Social Security benefits because I got pension in Russia. Yes, that would be correct because their original estimate of your SS benefit was based on an incorrect % calculation of your lifetime average monthly earnings. They only knew of your 12 years of work, and when calculated into your average monthly LIFETIME earnings, you appeared to be a LOW lifetime earner when you were not. In a nutshell, simplified explanation: In the USA, "normal" lifetime earner may get a benefit rate of about 25% of their average lifetime monthly incomes as their SS retirment benefit; low lifetime income earners, however, get a 'welfare' type rate, like 50% of their average lifetime monthly earnings, because otherwise they couldn't survive on the small benefit they'd get, so the government gives them extra. However, that extra is ONLY due those that 'need' it - i.e. no other pensions. Once the government found out yu had a pension elsewhere that had not been reported (and upon which you didn't pay SS taxes), it had to recalculate your benefit based on the 'normal' worker rate, not the poor person rate.

I am not sure that this decigion is correct. It likely is, if your Russian pension was from income that you did not pay SS taxes on here.

Assume, I would work all this time here in USA. My Social Security benefits would be higher. You only paid in for 12 years, that would typically provide a low rate, actually. The top 35 years of SS tax paying income are used, and 23 of yours are ZERO. That really brings down the 'average' lifetime monthly earnings, upon which your retirement benefit amount is based. YOu are no longer eligible for that "extra" welfare amount added to your benefit, since you are not considered a sufficientluy poor retiree. So you get stuck with the rate that we all get.

And, just because of the fact that I worked this time in other country, paid Social taxes there to that country's SS, right? Not this country's.

and earned based on this paiment pansion, my benefits here are reduced. I see no logic. It is call the Windfall Elimination Provision. It just means that you get the same 25% (or near there) rate applied to your US income average that everyone else gets.

Can you clarify, if the law interpreted by Social Security Administartion correctly?
I'm afraid it likely did. Here is more on WEP. WEP1 and WEP2.

I know it is frustrating when you weren't aware of this and presumed the SS estimates you'd gotten were accurate - but they were based on not all the information that is needed, since the US wasn't aware of the pension figure from Russia.

I hope this helps! Let me know if you need follow up before or after RATING me. And PLEASE know that my job depends on a POSITIVE rating now and at least an 8-10 feedback rating later. Thanks! I won't forget your support.

Sincerely,

Alexia Esq.



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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you, now I understand the logic. your explanation is quite clear.

Expert:  Alexia Esq. replied 4 years ago.
So glad I could help. I just wish I could change it for you...