Years back, I worked in the USA and made 7 years (28 quarters) social security contributions. I wrote to them a few years back and they said that I could get a pension with a minimum of 40 quarters of contributions.

I have tried contacting them to ask if I can make voluntary contributions, in order to qualify for a minimum pensions. However, I have not had a reply from for over a year now (because .. Covid?).

Obviously, I can't do anything until I hear from them officially, but can anyone here tell me unofficially:

  • can I make voluntary contributions?
  • if so, how much would 12 quarters of contributions cost me?
  • how much of a pension could I expect with 40 quarters of contributions?
  • would it be beneficial to me to make even more contributions?
  • 1
    Hypothetically, if voluntary contributions were allowed, I would expect each 4 quarters to cost 12.4% of your lowest annual salary during that period (that's what was paid in between your payroll tax deductions and your employer's contribution), so about 37% of your lowest annual salary. The benefits themselves would probably be around 40% of your average salary over that period; in general, your benefits are based on your 35 highest-earning years.
    – chepner
    May 10, 2021 at 19:40

1 Answer 1


No, you can't make voluntary contributions. You'd need to earn US income and pay US taxes in order to earn additional Social Security credits.

Depending upon where in the world you live, you may be able to take advantage of one of the bilateral agreements the US has entered into with various countries to allow you to count work in one country towards a different country's pension system. You may be able to get some credit in your current country for the social security credits you earned while in the US.

  • 2
    Many of these bilateral agreement allow pension credits to be applied to the other country for the purposes of qualifying. So if someone had 28 quarter of SS contributions, and had at least 12 quarters worth in a country with an agreement, they could use those additonal 12 quarters to qualify for SS benefits. The benefit amount would still be based on 28 quarters worth of contributions, and not 40, but it's still possible to get them. May 11, 2021 at 4:46
  • 1
    @KevinPeter +1 these are known as totalization agreements. Other things that can come up include the Windfall Elimination Provision.
    – obscurans
    May 11, 2021 at 8:43
  • @Justin Can I incorporate in Delaware, pay myself a salary & make contributions?
    – Mawg
    May 13, 2021 at 18:33

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