Person A, a German citizen who currently holds a US green card and lives in the US, worked earlier in their life in three different European countries, contributing to various government-sponsored pension plans, from the late 1970's to the mid nineties, with a little hiatus in the middle, for a total of 15 years' worth of regular contributions (Germany 9 years, Denmark 2 years, and France 4 years).

Person A more recently contributed to the US Social Security retirement system for 20 years (and participated in an employer-sponsored 401k program -- although that has nothing to do with this question).


  1. Can Person A receive benefits from both the European pension system and from the US Social Security retirement system? Will the US "Windfall Elimination Provision" (WEP) affect things?

  2. Should the three European pensions be somehow combined or centralized, perhaps into the German one?

  3. Should Person A consider making voluntary additional contributions to the German pension fund?

  4. Would receiving US citizenship somehow affect things?

  • Need (far) more information.... But I would assume that investing the money you would pay the german government into a 401(k) you'd see better returns. I don't see how even the combination of all of these retirement plans is going to be sustainable – xyious Jan 2 '20 at 20:39
  • @xyious - Thanks for responding. Person A also has a private retirement investment (combination of TIAA and Roth IRAs). // The money paid into the European state pension plans has already been paid in. The question isn't whether to participate or not. Those jobs are far in the past now. Sorry if the question wasn't clear. // Anything else I can add that would make it easier to answer my question? – aparente001 Jan 2 '20 at 20:43
  • Last time I checked you needed 15 years contribution in the EU to get your German pension paid, so A should check carefully that he's got 15 years and not 14 years and 11 months. – gnasher729 Jan 2 '20 at 23:24
  • @gnasher729 - Ah, thanks. I wonder if one can create an online account, as one can for the US system. // I think one can make voluntary contributions to the German system. However, if the German pension is just going to get knocked out with the Windfall thing, then there would be no point. – aparente001 Jan 3 '20 at 3:28
  • My experience, as a US citizen who has worked in other countries (so may not apply to your situation) is that many countries have "totalization" treaties. That is, the money that foreign country X collected from me for its Social Security equivalent gets paid into the US Social Security system. So you might do some searching on that for your countries: ssa.gov/policy/docs/ssb/v78n4/v78n4p1.html – jamesqf Jan 3 '20 at 5:30

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