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Can you transfer work credits from a different country?

Can you transfer work credits from a different country?

Some Americans who work outside the United States can receive Social Security credit for their period of foreign employment. Working outside the U.S. can complicate the benefit process some, but foreign work credits can also make you eligible for Social Security when you may not otherwise be.

Foreign Work Credits and Covered Nations

In order to receive foreign work credits for Social Security Disability (SSD) or Retirement benefits, U.S. workers must be employed within one of the nations with which the U.S. government has an established agreement.

NationDate of Agreement
AustraliaOctober 1, 2002
AustriaNovember 1, 1991
BelgiumJuly 1, 1984
CanadaAugust 1, 1984
ChileDecember 1, 2001
Czech RepublicJanuary 1, 2009
DenmarkOctober 1, 2008
FinlandNovember 1, 1992
FranceJuly 1, 1988
GermanyDecember 1, 1979
GreeceSeptember 1, 1994
IrelandSeptember 1, 1993
ItalyNovember 1, 1978
JapanOctober 1, 2005
LuxembourgNovember 1, 1993
NetherlandsNovember 1, 1990
NorwayJuly 1, 1984
PolandMarch 1, 2009
PortugalAugust 1, 1989
Slovak RepublicMay 1, 2014
SpainApril 1, 1988
South KoreaApril 1, 2001
SwedenJanuary 1, 1987
Switzerland November 1, 1980
United Kingdom January 1, 1985

For your foreign work credits to count toward U.S. benefits, your foreign employment must be after the date the U.S. government established its agreement with the foreign nation. The oldest of these agreements date to the late 1970s.

How Foreign Work Credits are Counted

The U.S. only counts foreign work credits from a covered nation if you do not have sufficient credits from working within the United States. In other words, if your U.S. employment results in enough credits for the Social Security Administration (SSA) to calculate disability or retirement benefits for you, then your foreign work credits are not needed.

If you do not have enough work credits from working within the U.S. to qualify for Social Security benefits, then the SSA will consider the years you work in other nations with which the U.S. has an established agreement. If the SSA must count your foreign work credits in order for you to qualify for U.S. benefits, then you will receive a partial benefit from the SSA. This partial benefit is related to the number of credits you have that were earned within the U.S.

The work credits from foreign nations are not actually transferred to the U.S. Social Security system. The credits themselves remain in the foreign nation in which you earned them instead. This means you may be able to qualify for benefits from the U.S. AND from the other nation in which you earned your foreign work credits.