Added American and Irish working records to maximize my pension


Regarding your recent article – Understanding the New Way to Get a State Pension – Before immigrating to the United States in 1985, I worked in Ireland for five years. This month, I will be 65. I plan to work for the next 16 months, by this point I will have maximized my social security.

My question is: Can the contributions I made during my five years working in Ireland be added to my Social Security contributions here in the US?

I know Ireland and Canada have a bilateral agreement on this. I have failed to get a firm yes or no from the various agencies I have contacted here and in Ireland.

MPO’H., United States

You’re not alone. Thousands of people have moved between the United States and Ireland for work during their careers. For some, this can be explained by career progression within the vast network of American companies operating in Ireland or by the growing number of Irish multinationals present in the United States. For others, it was simply a matter of emigrating to the United States in search of a better future and for still others, settling in Ireland.

In most of these cases, people will have a working record in both countries – and possibly others.

Outside the EU, Ireland has a series of bilateral agreements with countries governing social insurance. As you say, this includes Canada. It also includes the United States, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, and Japan. Because they have a different social security system from the rest of Canada, Ireland has a separate bilateral agreement with Quebec.

It also has bilateral agreements with Austria and Switzerland, although both are replaced by EU rules. The same is true for the UK, even after Brexit. So the large number with mixed working records between here and Britain or across the northern border will have their eligibility assessed under EU rules.

Each of these agreements has its own separate rules. These are fairly specific and I would advise anyone in a position to check with local agencies for clarity. Knowing where to go, as you’ve discovered, can be half the problem.

Bilateral agreement

The Irish bilateral with the United States dates back to 1993. I am looking at an explanation of the agreement published by the US Social Security Administration, dated 2017.

If you were based in Ireland at this point you would apply to the Department of Social Protection and they would calculate your entitlements in much the same way as in the EU – i.e. they use the formula A x B / C, where A is the theoretical Irish pension rate you would get if all of your stamps in both countries were treated as Irish, B is the actual number of stamps accumulated in Ireland and C is the total number of social insurance contributions in the two countries.

The difference is that within the EU the total is the cumulative number of contributions made in all EU states. Regarding bilateral agreements, when you have worked in more than one of the countries covered by such agreements, the ratio is established with each country in which you have worked independently.

Ultimately, for any Irish state pension, only the result giving you the highest Irish pension is relevant on the Irish side.

He will then ask for a pro rata pension for you from the other country. While the Irish pension is determined by only one bilateral, you may be entitled to pensions from more than one other country depending on your social insurance record in each.

As with EU rules, for the bilateral scheme to enter into force, you must have a certain number of social insurance stamps. In the case of Ireland, this is one week of insurable employment and 52 “accountable” weeks – that is, worked or credited. In the United States, it’s generally six credits earned per quarter, so 18 months of work.

American resident

Now looking at the agreement from a US resident’s perspective, where you are, it specifically says that you cannot use your Irish employment record to increase your US pension when your US Social Security record gives you already entitled to a benefit. In your case, where you will have reached your maximum social security by 2024, this is clearly the case, so you cannot just add the Irish contributions to the US record.

The agreement states that when you do not have enough work credits under the U.S. system to qualify for regular benefits, U.S. officials will examine your work record in both countries to see if you qualify for a claim. partial benefit.

But, even if you cannot increase your pension from the US authorities, it is still possible, to my knowledge, to get a pro-rated pension from the Irish authorities for those five years of work here before you leave for the US. .

The deal says that if you didn’t need an agreement to qualify for Social Security benefits in either country, your US benefit amount could be reduced. However, in this case you would need the agreement to be entitled to the Irish allowance, so by my interpretation everything should be fine.

It won’t be a lot financially, but there’s no reason not to pursue it.

From the documents I am looking at, since you live in the United States, you can apply by going or writing to any American Social Security office. There is also a free phone number 1-800-772-1213.

He says you can apply for Irish benefits by filling out an SSA-2490 application form, which should be available at any social security office.

If you live in Ireland and would like to apply for benefits under the bilateral agreement with the United States or another country, contact the Department of Social Welfare (Pensions Section) at College Road, Sligo or by phone on 071 915-7100 or (for the cost of a local call) 1890-500-000. The 1890 numbers will be phased out from January, so the dialing number prefix will be replaced by 0818 or 1800 next year.

Please send questions to Dominic Coyle, Q&A, The Irish Times, 24-28 Tara Street, Dublin 2, or email [email protected] This column is a reading service and is not intended to replace professional advice. No personal correspondence will be exchanged


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