How Your Canada Pension Plan (CPP) Impacts Your U.S. Social Security Benefit

Retirement planning is hard enough if you have always lived and worked in the United States.  If you have worked in both Canada and the U.S., retirement planning may seem impossible.  You have to deal with a moving exchange rate, different tax codes, and enough retirement planning acronyms to make you crazy (IRA, RRSP, TFSA, RRIF, etc.) Also, if social security planning isn’t difficult enough, now you need to deal with a CPP (another acronym).   The CPP can negatively (or positively) impact your social security benefit.  Confused yet?  This article will help you determine if your U.S. social security benefit will be impacted by working and earning a CPP in Canada.  

The Good (and Bad) of the Totalization Agreement between the U.S. and Canada

In 1984, the U.S. and Canada agreed to a Totalization Agreement.  The order was to help “protect” social security benefits for people that have worked in both the U.S. and Canada.  Yet, many people who are affected by this agreement feel it robs them of some of their social security, not protects it.

The Totalization Agreement allows U.S. workers to combine work experience in the U.S. and Canada to qualify for social security. This allows people to qualify for social security, even without having enough work credits.  In the U.S. you need 10 years of work experience to qualify for social security.  So, let’s say that you worked for 6 years in the U.S., and then took a job and moved to Canada for 20 years before retiring.  Under normal social security rules, this would mean that you would miss out completely on social security.  However, the Totalization Agreement allows you to use your Canadian work experience to qualify for social security when you retire.  Seems like this is a win-win for retirees until you find out the ugly side of the agreement.  

Unfortunately, the agreement isn’t good for everyone.  The Totalization Agreement is great for those who have worked for less than ten years in the U.S.  However, it is not as friendly if you actually qualify for your own social security benefit.  The agreement contains a Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP), which reduces your U.S. social security benefit if you have worked in a job in which you didn’t pay into social security.  This includes working in Canada in which you earned a CPP  and didn’t pay into social security.  

How much will your social security be impacted by WEP?

The amount your social security benefit that is reduced by WEP depends on two factors:  How long you worked in the U.S. and the size of the Canadian pension that you earned.  

The longer that you worked in the U.S. and paid into social security, the less that WEP will negatively impact your benefit.  If you have worked in the U.S. for over 30 years, you would have no reduction in your U.S. social security benefit.  If you have less than 20 years of work experience in the U.S., your social security can be reduced by as much as 60%.  This may seem extreme, but there is a limit to how much your benefit can be reduced.  

Your social security benefit can only be reduced by the lesser of 50% of your CPP (plus any other Canadian pension you may have earned) or an annual limit which is set by the government each year.  In 2022, the most that your social security can be reduced by WEP is  $512 per month.  This applies to someone with less than 20 years of work experience in the U.S.  So, if your only Canadian pension is the CPP and the CPP is $500, the most that your social security can be reduced is $250 per month.  OAS is not included in the WEP calculation.  

Why does WEP reduce social security benefits?

Social security is a progressive system in which workers who have paid less into social security actually receive a higher, relative to earnings history, benefit compared to a higher income worker. Essentially, the social security system is set-up to give a little bonus to lower-income workers and assumes that people who have paid less into social security have earned less over their life. This assumption though isn’t necessarily correct if a person has earned a lot over his lifetime but has done so in different jurisdictions. Therefore, WEP was created to eliminate this extra social security benefit that is given to lower-income workers. I’m not saying this is right, but social security is riddled with these odd adjustments.

When does WEP impact your social security benefit?

Your social security is not lowered by WEP until you actually turn on your CPP or other Canadian pensions. So, if you turn on your U.S. social security at age 62 but delay turning on your CPP until later, you would receive your full age 62 benefit until you turn on CPP. This is where social security and CPP planning is very important. For example, does it make sense to turn on social security at age 62 and delay CPP and other Canadian pensions until later? This allows you to collect an unreduced social security benefit for up to 8 years, before getting the WEP reduction. Or, does it make sense to turn on CPP immediately at age 60? Your CPP benefit will be lower and therefore will have less impact on your social security benefit. And you thought just planning for U.S. social security was confusing! I wrote this article about social security strategies when you have a CPP.  

If you would like, the social security administration has a WEP benefit calculator on its website, so that you can calculate your after WEP social security benefit.  WEP Social Security Calculator

If you have worked in both the U.S. and Canada, developing a retirement strategy that reduces WEP is crucial. However, most financial advisors have no idea how social security, CPP, and WEP work together. Are you ready to work with a financial advisor that truly understands your cross-border retirement needs. If so, schedule a complimentary meeting below.


  1. I have 14 US social security credits and 24 years of contribution (or 96 quarters) to CPP in Canada. That is a total of 110 credits or 27.5 years. I live in the US. If I work 2.5 more years and earn 10 more social security credits and use the Totalization agreement to reach a combined 30 years or 120 quarters, will I be able to avoid the WEP reduction? I am collecting a small Teachers pension from Canada and CPP already and very concerned about WEP.

    1. Hi Ben,

      Thanks for the question. Unfortunately, you would need to have worked in the U.S. for 30 years in order to avoid WEP completely. The U.S. and Canada Agreement does not help with WEP, it just makes it easier to qualify for social security. The U.S. does not care how long you worked in Canada, rather just how many years you have worked in the U.S.
      If you have less than 20 years work experience here in the U.S., you will potentially face this highest WEP reduction.
      Hopefully this helps, but let me know if you have any other questions.

      1. Is it possible that Ben avoids WEP due to application of Totalization to reach the minimum 40 credits? I see that his total SS contribution would be 24 quarters in the example above.

        Section 404.213(e)(8) of the social security regulation states “For benefits payable for months after December 1994, the computations in paragraph (c) [the WEP calculation] do not apply in the case of an individual whose entitlement to the social security benefits results from a Totalization Agreement between the United States and a foreign country.”

  2. Bryan, Great article. You write ….So, if your only Canadian pension is the CPP and the CPP is $500, the most that your social security can be reduced is $250 per month. OAS is not included in the WEP calculation. ….
    Question : Is currency exchange rate from $CDN to U$ is used in these calculations?
    If it is not, how then currencies from other countries like Norway, Great Britain are treated?

    1. Hi Janus, thanks for the question. Yes, the currency exchange rate is used in this calculation. The most that you can lose is 1/2 of your CPP after it is converted to USD. If your CPP is C$500 you would receive about $380 USD today. The max WEP reduction would be $190 USD.

      Hopefully this helps and let me know if you have any other questions.


  3. what happens if you have say full 30 years of work record in the US therefore no reduction. + 3k annually from CPP for working in Canada during college and highschool and another 2K-3K or so GBP from UK for working there 2 years with buyup into their NI program.

    Due to the 30+ years with US, would there be no reduction across all 3 pension programs via WEP or Totality?

    1. Hi David,

      Yes, as long as you have over 30 years of work here in the U.S., earning over the Substantial Earnings limit, you should not have a WEP reduction on your social security benefit. It does not matter how many foreign pensions that you may have.


  4. Bryan, if I draw canadian pensions now 2020 and do not draw US soc sec until 2028 when I have 30 years work in US, does WEP still come into play?

  5. Currently receiving $900/month from Social Security and $600/month in CPP. Wife’s PIA is $2,223 from Social Security and I am trying to figure out if I will be eligible for a spousal add-on of roughly $200 when she files or if it will be reduced.

    1. Hi Henry,

      I don’t know your situation well enough to tell you for sure, but it does appear that you will get a bump when your wife files for social security. It depends on when you started social security. You only get 1/2 of your wife’s benefit if you started your own benefit at your Full Retirement Age. If you started early, you may not get the full 1/2 of her benefit and won’t get as high of a jump.


  6. I am presently receiving $500.00/month for my CPP , I now realize as a US citizen I can apply for my SS pension. I have 18 credits in the USA and I understand they will then look for the remaining credits from my CPP contributions. If they use my CPP credits will that reduce my monthly CPP payment or will it just be used to calculate my Social Security payment and then the WEP provision will be used with no reduction in my monthly CPP?

    1. Hi Len,

      Yes, using your CPP contributions will help you qualify for social security. Once social security starts, you will have a reduction as a result of WEP. In your case, you will probably have a $250 monthly reduction in social security because of WEP. Your CPP is not reduced.


  7. I have 30 years of contributing to SS in the US and 5 years in Canada. Usually, 35 years are averaged to determine the SS benefit. Can my Canadian earnings offset these 5 zeros?

    1. Hi Tom,

      Thanks for the question. No, your Canadian earnings do not add to your social security at all. It simply will help you qualify for social security if you don’t have enough social security credits. In your case, because you already qualify for social security, your Canadian earnings will not help with your U.S. social security.


  8. Mr. Haggard,

    Thank you for your article. I wonder if I could bother you with 2 questions please. I have 28 credit years of work under SS and am received full retirement benefits. My wife is receiving spousal benefits on my record until she turns 70 and will then go on her benefits. We both are entitled to very small QPP pensions. Once we start QPP benefits, I realize my SS benefits will be reduced by a small amount (probably $40 to $50) but will my wife’s benefits also be reduced and would we be able to figure out by how much?

    Secondly, when do I notify the Social Security office that we have started collecting QPP? Should we not wait until we receive a payment in the bank to show the converted amount in U.S. funds?

    Thanks in advance

    1. Hi Andre,
      Yes, if your wife’s benefit is based on her own benefit, and she has a QPP, she will have a WEP reduction. The WEP reduction is based on her U.S. years worked and size of QPP. If she is just collecting a spousal benefit, she would not have a separate WEP reduction if your social security is being WEP’d.

      You should let social security know about your QPP benefit just before you receive your first payment. SS will collect additional information about your QPP and decide how much your social security benefit should be reduced. You don’t want to wait and get a big bill later.

      Thanks Andre, please let me know if you have any other questions.


  9. Thank you Mr. Haggard. As a follow up, if I can, my wife definitely has less than 20 years of SS work, so when she finally at age 70 starts receiving benefits on her own record she would be subject to WEP reduction, but would the caveat still exist that the reduction could not be more than 50% of the QPP benefit? Otherwise I am wondering if it would be better to just stay on spousal benefits forever?

    Thank you again


  10. Hi Bryan, I came to the US in 1998 and have been working here since then until last year. Prior to coming here I was working in Canada and qualify for CPP. I am turning 70 in a few months and will start collecting both social security and CPP. Will WEP apply to me and reduce my social security ?
    Thanks for your time.

    1. Hi Srinivas,
      Thanks for the question. Yes, it appears that you only have about 20 or 21 years of work here in the U.S. If you have less than 30 years, and a CPP benefit, you are typically subject to a WEP reduction on your social security benefit. Let me know if you have any other questions.


  11. Hi Bryan, thanks for your answer. It does not make sense to me that CPP earned prior to me ever coming to this country should now reduce my social security. I can see if I was already in the US working and then went for a while to Canada, but that is not my case.
    Thanks, Srinivas

  12. I am a dual citizen living in the USA and working for 40 years here. I worked in Canada for about 10 years before I moved to the USA. Can I collect my SSI and CPP without any reductions? Should I apply for CPP?

    1. Hi Margaret, Yes, it does sound like you will be able to collect both social security and CPP and have no reduction to your social security benefit. Typically, you need to have worked in the U.S. for 30 years to collect a WEP free social security benefit. I don’t know your situation well enough to advise you when to start collecting your CPP, but you definitely want to start collecting at some point.


  13. I am 68 and my wife is 67 and we both started receiving SS benefits exactly a year ago. She, however, is receiving spousal benefits on my record. Although we both worked in Canada for a few years (she a bit more than I) since I only have 28 years of SS “substantial” earnings (24 yrs if they had to be before I turned 62), I would be hit with a WEP penalty. Am I correct in thinking that if my wife applies for QPP (but not I) that her SS benefits will not go down upon receipt of the QPP? If so, then we would have to figure out when she turns 70 what kind of hit her SS benefits on her record would take because of the QPP as she has only 11 or 12 years of SS substantial earnings. I am worried that if I also apply for the QPP that my SS benefit will go down and her spousal benefits as well. Thank you

    1. Hi Tom,

      Thanks for the questions. You are correct, your wife’s QPP benefit should not have an impact on her spousal social security benefit. She is receiving a spousal benefit, therefore it is only your WEP reduction which would reduce her social security benefit. Also, if you turn on QPP, you both will have a reduction in your social security benefits.

      Please let me know if you have any further questions.


      1. My wife qualifies for both social security and the CPP both on her own record and does not need to combine quarters or anything like that. If she takes social security on her own record now and does not take the CPP at this time ( even though she is eligible at age 66), it is my understanding that her social security would not be subject to a reduction for the windfall?

        I plan to retire in a year or less and my wife would then convert to the social security spousal benefit and then after she is on the spousal benefit, she would then apply for the CPP and old age benefit. It is my understanding that, when she is on the spousal benefit, the windfall reduction would not apply.? Does Canada have any type of similar reduction scheme which we could be caught up in? I noptice that in the Canadian application they ask if you are receiving benefits from another country?

      2. Hi Tony,
        It sounds like you and your wife have a good plan. You are correct, that WEP doesn’t start until a person starts both social security and CPP. Your wife can collect social security and delay CPP and wouldn’t be subject to WEP until she starts CPP. However, as you mentioned, there is no WEP reduction on a spousal social security benefit.

        Like I said, it sounds like you have a great plan to maximize your income and keep WEP reduction low.

        Best regards,

  14. Hello Bryan
    Thank you for this website and your information. I will be receiving both CPP and Social security in the near future. I also am presently receiving a teacher’s pension in Canada. I gather that I would therefore need to expect the maximum amount set by the government (e.g. $463 in 2019) since my teacher’s pension combined with my CPP would be a higher amount. Does this sound correct? A a non-resident alien of the USA and as a Canadian citizen (I presently live outside of both the US and Canada), I would have to pay an additional 30% tax to the USA? Is this correct?
    Thank you

    1. Hi Tom,

      Thanks for the questions. If you have less than 20 years of U.S. work, you will probably face the maximum WEP reduction which is $480 in 2020. Also, as a NRA typically there is 30% U.S. tax withholding on 85% of your U.S. social security benefit. This is because 15% of your social security benefit is tax-free. However, the country which you reside may have an agreement with the U.S. that allows for less to be withheld.


  15. Thank you Bryan for your prompt response!

    I am living in Belgium presently.

    Would I also need to send in a tax form to the IRS every year once I am receiving my social security or would this remain unnecessary since I am already being taxed the maximum amount?

    A similar question.

    I am also withdrawing a CAP (similar to an RRSP in Canada I believe) from my previous employer in the US and also a private pension from this same employer ( I have the choice of a onetime lump sum payment or monthly pension payments).

    Would I also have this automatically taxed at the 30% NRA fee?

    Same question, having deducted (withheld) the maximum amount, is it also necessary to send in a tax form for this pension? (in Canada I have the choice of withholding the maximum amount and then there is no need to send in my tax form every year).
    Thank you

  16. If I work in the United States and pay into social security for 1 and a half years (to get 6 credits) and then return to Canada, will I qualify for both social security and CPP? I’ve read that my social security will be reduced because I am using Canadian credits to meet the 40 credit requirement of social security, but I can’t find the formula or any further details. Could you help me out or point me in the right direction?

    1. Hi Anderson,

      Yes, you should qualify for SS with only 1.5 years of U.S. work, as long as you work in Canada for at least 8.5 years. Your SS amount is based on how much you have contributed to SS. The more you have contributed, the higher the benefit. Therefore, working and contributing for only 1.5 years will be a much smaller benefit than contributing for 10 years.

  17. Hello Bryan
    I am living in Belgium presently.

    Would I need to send in a tax form to the IRS every year once I am receiving my social security or would this remain unnecessary since I am already being taxed the maximum amount?

    A similar question.

    I am also withdrawing a CAP (similar to an RRSP in Canada I believe) from my previous employer in the US and also a private pension from this same employer ( I have the choice of a onetime lump sum payment or monthly pension payments).

    Would I also have this automatically taxed at the 30% NRA fee?

    Same question, having deducted (withheld) the maximum amount, is it also necessary to send in a tax form for this pension? (in Canada I have the choice of withholding the maximum amount and then there is no need to send in my tax form every year).
    Thank you

  18. Qualify for 100 CPP now and 100 OAP once 65yrs old.
    Worked 25 years in US, but earned less than ‘substantial’ most years.

    Am I correct that I can: apply for CPP now and get the full 100
    apply for OAP at 65 and get the full 100

    But… As soon as I apply for SS, that will be reduced by 50 because of the CPP, but no further reductions triggered by receiving the OAP?


  19. Bryan, I am age 70; worked in the US for 17 years and am collecting US SS. I worked sporadically in Canada prior to emigrating. Summer jobs; 9 years of full employment; stay at home mom. Because of WEP I decided not to jeopardize my US SS, and did not apply for CPP. My question is “Can I apply for OAS without hurting my US SS ?” I lived in Canada for 29 years after age 18.

    1. Hi Susan,
      Yes, you can apply and receive OAS and it won’t impact your social security. CPP will impact social security but you never lose more than half of your CPP. Therefore, I typically suggest also collecting your CPP as well.


  20. Hello, I have a question. I’m a Canadian living and working in the US (14yrs now) I’m currently collecting CPP since age 62 (less than $500.) I’ve earned 40 credits enough to apply for SSec. Will my SSec become subject to WEP? I won’t be using any Canadian credits to apply for it.

  21. I have 36 credits from working in the US. Just under 9 years.How do I get to the minimum 40 credits. I’ll be 63 in the fall and am looking to potentially retire. I have been told that when I apply for CPP,, and inform inform them about Social Security they will automatically top up the four credits. Call me suspicious that it would be that easy, What is the process

    1. Hi Emerik, in order to earn more credits you need to work at a job and pay into social security. To earn 1 credit, you need to earn $1,470 in 2021. To earn 4 credits, you would need to earn $5,880 in a year. It doesn’t matter how long it takes you to earn that $5,880. You can earn it in a day or over 12 months.

      You don’t need 40 credits to qualify for social security if you have worked and paid into CPP in Canada for at least a year. However, to qualify for Medicare, you do need 40 credits.


  22. Thank you, that’s good news. Im okay with the Canadian medical system and my benefits from one of the Big 3.

  23. Hi, can you cofirm my understanding as follows: When I start collecting US social security on my own record and my dual citizen spouse takes the spousal benefit (while already collecting his own CPP), there will be no offset for him because the windfall provision only applies to social security he might collect on his own record, not the spousal benefit. He did not work in the US and so does not qualify for SS on his own. Thanks, Carole

      1. Bryan,

        My understanding is that Spousal Benefits may be reduced by Government Pension Offset. We have not faced this yet but will eventually.

  24. I have 33 years in the USA so I have the 30 year thing covered to avoid WEP and I have 14 years in Canada. I am a Canadian citizen permanently residing in the USA. Must I apply for my CPP/OAS through SSA/RRB or can I apply for it directly from Canada.

  25. Bryan…. Might need to hire you… Thanks so much for the article – I had no idea.
    I worked 22 years in Canada – so I qualify for CPP and OAS. I also have a pension through Kodak (in Canada) – All together the monthly payment would be around $1000 (at full retirement age). I have worked in the US for 24 years and am still working. I am looking at retirement in the next 2 years…. but now wondering if I should start collecting all my Canada pensions today and increase my US contribution to my 401K. Could this help to offset the WEP when it hits?
    Thanks again


    1. Hi Gabrielle, I’m glad that the article was helpful. Every situation is different, but it is possible that starting your Canada pensions now, may result in a larger social security benefit. Increasing 401(k) contributions probably won’t help with the WEP reduction.

      Thanks for the question.

      Best regards,

  26. Bryan, I worked with the US Federal government for over 30 years where I didn’t pay any social security taxes because I was covered under the civil service retirement system (CSRS). As a result, I am currently collecting a CSRS pension ($6000.00 per month). I also worked for 6 years in the US where I did pay Social Security taxes. Before I emigrated to the US, I worked in Canada for 5 years and currently I am collecting a small pension from CPP ($100.00). In your article, you stated that ” The amount your social security benefit that is reduced by WEP depends on two factors: How long you worked in the U.S. and the size of the Canadian pension that you earned.” If I decide to collect my US SS benefits this year, is my US social security going to be reduced based on my Canadian pension only or by adding my US and Canadian pensions?


    1. Hi Al, in your case the CSRS pension and CPP will impact your U.S. social security benefit. The good news is that you should qualify for U.S. social security by combining the your U.S. work and Canada work. Unfortunately, it will probably be relatively low because of only paying into SS for 6 years and a large WEP reduction from having these 2 pensions. The most that your SS can be reduced by WEP is 60%. I wouldn’t be surprised if that is what you see happen to your SS benefit.

      Sorry to deliver the bad news.

      Best regards,

  27. Hi. I am 60 years old and am about to start collecting CPP in Canada, which should be about $500 CAD per month. I also receive a private pension of about $1100 CAD per month. I don’t have enough years worked in the US, so I will need to use my Canadian work history to qualify for SS in the US. Would it be better to draw spousal benefits, since I have paid only 7 years into SS? If I do decide to draw on my own using my prior Canadian work history, how much will be deducted from my SS for WEP? Does my private pension effect it? If I am understanding correctly, I don’t think WEP will happen if I draw spousal benefits from my wife’s SS. Thank you so much!

    1. Hi Joe, thanks for the questions.

      1. You will either get your own SS benefit or half of your spouse’s benefit, whichever is higher. Given your situation, you are probably better collecting the spousal benefit.

      2. It appears that you will be subject to the max WEP Reduction which is currently $498 per month at your full social security age.

      3. Correct, WEP does not impact a spousal benefit.


  28. My ex-wife (we are friends again) has sought my input into her pension planning.

    She was born in the USA in 1956, married me in 1978 and became a permanent resident, and later, a citizen of Canada. She moved back to the USA in 2007 to care for her ailing parents. After her parents’ death, she returned to Canada in March 2020 to care for our grandchildren.

    I am encouraging her to put off taking her Canadian (OAS and) CPP until age 70. I was delighted to find recently a paper by the Canadian Society of Actuaries that analysed the risks and benefits of taking up CPP at age 65 or later. One sentence cannot do justice to a four-page Executive Summary or 35 pages of intimidating actuarial math, but it left me confident of my advice.

    I know the Canadian pension and tax systems thoroughly. I am trying to become an “instant expert” on US Social Security and, in particular, the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). Her spotty employment record means that the most important aspect of the WEP is probably the “maximum of 50% of the non-covered pension.” In her case, this would be calculated only on her CPP. But how is it calculated? Is it at 62 (the earliest age for SS benefits), age 65 (the default age for CPP benefits), 66y4m (her default age for SS benefits) or 70 (the oldest age for take-up of CPP benefits)? Is the WEP fixed once for all time, or does it vary if CPP and SS cost-of-living increases go out of alignment?

    My understanding so far is that the age of her take-up of CPP benefits will not affect the impact of the WEP on her US Social Security.

    Am I correct in this understanding?

    1. Hi Bruce,
      Thanks for the question. Probably too much to answer here, but the higher the CPP benefit usually the higher the WEP. Many times people will find they have a higher social security benefit (lower WEP) if starting CPP early. WEP is fixed once you start your second benefit (social security or CPP) and is based on the exchange rate at that point.


  29. hi Brian, I worked in the us for 20 years and will have worked in Canada for another 20 when I retire. For my us soc sec wep, do I also have to account for my Canadian employer’s company defined benefit pension plan income, or is is just cpp that needs to be reported?

  30. Thanks for the continued information on WEP. I do NOT understand why WEP would take into account private pensions from Canada? I am loosing more every day!!

  31. Both my wife and I have 15 years (after 18) n Canada followed by 30 in USA. So should get CPP and US social security. However my wife never worked in US, so she will get spousal social security. So far so good. But what about OAS? I guess I will get 15/40 based on totalization, but what about my wife? OAS is supposed to be based on years lived, not employment, but your article implies she needs to have had employment in US to qualify.

    1. Hi Gennady, thanks for the question. If your wife has 20 years of Canadian residency (and retires outside of Canada) she would qualify for OAS on her own. If she has less than 20 years she would have had to work in the U.S. for enough years to make up for the difference. In her case, it sounds like she would have to work in the U.S. for 5 years to qualify for OAS. If she hasn’t worked in the U.S. she probably won’t qualify for OAS. It’s not enough to live in the U.S. to make up for less than 20 years residency in Canada.


  32. Hello, I have worked in the USA for 20 years and in Canada for 20 years but I am both a Canadian and USA citizen, therefore, am I excluded from this agreement? That is, as a Canadian citizen I receive benefits as a Canadian and as a USA citizen I receive the full benefits as an American.


    1. Hi Bob, Unfortunately you are not excluded from the agreement. You only avoid WEP if you have more than 30 years of US work. If you only have 20 years of work, you are subject to a reduction to your SS benefit because of your CPP.


  33. Hi Bryan,

    I worked in Canada for 5 years and moved to the US in 1980. From 1980 to 2015 (35 years), I worked for the US Federal Government where I didn’t pay social security taxes, but I did pay Medicare taxes. From 2016 to the present (6 years) I have been working for a private firm and have been paying social security taxes. Am I eligible for Canada old age security retirement benefit? Is Canada going to count my 35 years of US Federal service where I didn’t pay social security for OAS eligibility purposes?

    Thank you for the great service you provide many of us in this blog.


    1. Hi Al,
      You probably won’t qualify for OAS assuming you retire in the states. Canadian residency plus US social security years must exceed 20 years. It appears you are short of that qualification. I’d reach out to Service Canada though to be 100% sure.

      Thanks, Al, please let me know if you have any other questions.


      1. Isn’t OAS pro-rated if you’ve lived less than 20 years in Canada after age 18? (If you’ve lived in Canada for at least 10 years after age 18 and if you otherwise qualify under “totalization”)

        Also, OAS eligibility is based on Canadian income, so you could qualify for OAS when you live in the US, but not be eligible if you move back to Canada and file Canadian income taxes.

      2. Yes, it is pro rated if you lived less than 20 years in Canada after the age 18. However, in order to qualify your Canadian residency plus US social security years must equal 20 or higher. In Al’s situation, it appears he may not have enough SS years paid to qualify.

  34. Hello Bryan
    I am a non-resident of both Canada and the USA. I pay my taxes in Canada as I have a private pension there. I know I am eligible for both CPP/ OAS and a Social Security pension in the US (the larger amount being in Canada). As a non-resident I am taxed less in Canada if 90% of my total worldwide income is based in Canada. Is my US social security included in my world wide income even though I am already being penalized (a reduced US social security) by the windfall deduction? Would I also be taxed in the US for my social security?
    thank you

    1. Hi Tom,

      If you are a U.S. citizen, you will still need to pay taxes. If you are a non U.S. resident or citizen you shouldn’t have to pay US taxes. However, the US will typically withhold 15% of 85% of your Social Security payments. Depending on your country of residency you may have to include social security as income. In that case, you can usually use the U.S. tax withholding as a foreign tax credit to offset your taxes.


  35. Hi Bryan, I worked in my native Canada for 5 years in total, since then I’ve spent 43 years in various countries including 16 years in the US. I am collecting US Social Security since 3 years, just turned 65. I don’t collect any other pension from another country since I’m not eligible. Should I apply now for CPP given the most that my SSA would be reduced by WEP is 50% of my CPP? There are no tax implications even though I’m a dual citizen because even with CPP, my income would still be under the US$25k threshold for filing. Many thanks.

    1. Hi Rick, Yes, it seems to make sense to start your CPP. Your social security can’t be reduced by more than half of your Canada pensions. Make sure that you notify Social Security that you are starting your CPP so they don’t find out later and ding you with penalties.


  36. Hi Bryan: I moved to the USA in 2015 on a K1 VISA and married that year. He is a USA citizen. We both have turned 65 and I recently started receiving my CPP. He wants me to apply now for the spousal social security here since he has recently started receiving it. I have never worked in the USA. Will my CPP or the spousal SS be lowered because I am going to be collecting both? My CPP is about 700 USA a month and if I get 1/2 of what he is getting from social security, I will collect approx 1200 a month. Thanks in advance for answering!

    1. Hi Stephanie, Thanks for the question. No, your spousal social security benefit will not be impacted by your CPP. Thankfully, spousal SS is based on your spouse’s situation and if he is not subject to WEP, your spousal benefit is not subject to WEP. You can collect your full $700 CPP and $600 social security benefits.


      1. Thanks so much, Bryan for clarifying this for me and for the prompt reply. I appreciate it very much!

  37. Note to Stephanie – don’t forget to also apply for your Old Age Pension. If you worked in Canada for 20 years and are age 65 – you should qualify.

    1. I just received paperwork in the mail with an application. I lived in Canada until 2015 and did not know about OAS. Shame on me. The letter tells me I “may be entitled to receive OAS” lol. I think I am! Thanks, Gabrielle!!

  38. Great article. As a Canadian I worked for 23 years in the USA, but only 5 years in Canada. I’m going to defer collecting SS till age 70, but entitled to a small ccp that I will take at age 60, maybe $400 a month. When will the WEP kick in? Does SS start to reduce my benefit when I first take ccp, ie the clock starts ticking (even though I’m not collecting SS till age 70) or is reduced at age 70, effectively letting me collect ccp for 10 years without a reduction? Then at that point they apply the WEP based on my monthly ccp benefit when I’m collecting both benefits. I am just interested in some weird retroactive penalty SS holds against you for collecting ccp earlier than SS.

    1. Hi Brian,
      This is typically the strategy that I suggest. WEP doesn’t begin until you start your second benefit, in your case social security. Starting CPP early gives you a smaller CPP benefit but also typically a smaller WEP reduction. In your case, your maximum WEP reduction will be $200 per month when you start social security.


      1. Thanks so much. I’m wondering if you know the cra handling of Canadian residents who own American health savings account. Both the cra and cross border tax experts can’t come to a clear reading in my research. I know how they are used and handled by the irs, but does the cra follow the irs method? I’m my case, I have the hsa with the USA custodian, the principal is invested in an index fund. They’re are dividends and capital gains, which the irs doesn’t require yearly reporting, only the contributions and distributions. I have not made a contribution or distribution since resuming Canadian residency, and will let it sit till I’m 65, then take out distributions. So does the cra require yearly reporting of the dividends and capital gains or just the distributions when they occur, the latter is easy, the former a nightmare.
        I know this is beyond the article you wrote but I can’t find an answer anywhere. Thanks if you can help.

  39. The Democrats Abroad are currently agitating for the US to cancel WEP (lotsa luck).

    How would that affect Canadians who are already “victims” of WEP under the 1984 tax treaty? In particular, I have 40 “quarters” and get a modest Social Security payment as well as an intermediately large CPP payment.

    Don’t know if it is appropriate to add here, but what’s the latest on TFSA taxation?


    1. Hi Ben,

      I wouldn’t hold your breath, but yes, there is a chance that WEP is eventually eliminated. President Biden did campaign for the elimination of WEP. Even if it does pass, it may not be applicable to everyone, but hopefully it will be. IF it does pass, my guess is that your social security benefit will be restored to the pre-WEP amount. Let’s hope.

      Our suggestion is still to collapse a TFSA before coming to the states to avoid foreign trust tax issues.


  40. I also see on another blog that “Windfall elimination does not apply to someone who spends more than 20 years paying Social Security taxes, regardless of pension status. Also, it only applies to workers who receive some form of government pension.” So why does it apply to workers who have paid into SS all their US working years, but have also had a period of employment during which they paid CPP taxes? I’ve left 3 comments, lol. Sorry! I am pretty steamed about this. Either I’m missing something, or this is really unfair.

    1. Hi Joanne,
      Thanks for the comments. Unfortunately, WEP applies to anyone that has a pension from a job in which they didn’t pay SS taxes and have less than 30 years of paying SS taxes. SS does consider CPP in this equation and so CPP will probably cause a reduction to your SS benefits. I think in another comment you mentioned that you have 29 years of work, which means the reduction should be pretty low. Sorry, Joanne, and best of luck going through this process.


  41. HI,

    My wife has 40 credits from working in the USA for 10 years, in 2008 she moved to Canada and has since become a Canadian citizen (she now has dual citizenship). She started working in Canada and collected a defined contribution pension from her employer and also started putting money into RRSPs. She left that job after 12 years and converted the pension to a lira account. She has continued with the RRSP contributions at her new job. When she goes to apply for cpp and Social security will the wep include the money in the lira and all of her RRSP contributions? Is it worth her while to contribute to RRSPs or if I have room should I just open a spousal RRSP for her?



    1. Hi, No, the WEP is not impacted by the LIRA or the RRSP, just the CPP or any defined benefit pension plans. It may be worth her while to contribute to an RRSP. Either way, it has no impact on her social security benefits.


      1. Thank you Bryan for the quick response. I did have a follow up question regarding Socia Security spousal benefit and a foreign husband. Is it possible for me to get this benefit without ever living in the United States?



  42. Hi Bryan,
    I have been drawing on my ex-husband’s SS# for 8 years, and SS contacted me to say that drawing on my own SS# would increase my payment. However, as I am also collecting a small CPP $200/mth., would WEP impact my SS payment, and how do they determine the amount? I worked in the US for 13 years. Thank you very much for your response.

    1. Hi JD, Yes, if you move to your own benefit you will probably have a WEP reduction. Your maximum WEP reduction will probably only be 1/2 of your CPP benefit. You will have to see if your after WEP reduction is higher than your current ex-husband benefit. Thanks, Bryan

  43. @ J D Also keep in mind that your benefit may grow as you file at a later age (depend on your current age, of course), so keep checking every year to see current numbers. There may be a point where your own benefits starts getting bigger even with WEP.

    1. Hi Brian
      I will collect CPP and Social Security USA. So Social Security will deduct up to half of my CPP from my Social Security. Do I get the full CPP check then? So if my CPP is 500 and Social Security is 1000 I would net 1250?

      1. Hi Ann,

        Yes, you would collect your full CPP but your SS may be reduced by up to half of your CPP. Therefore, your $1,000 SS benefit may be reduced to $750, which would give you $1,250 total.


  44. Dear Mr. Haggard,
    Thanks for your valuable article “How Your CPP Impacts Your U.S. Social Security Benefit SSA”. Since I have less than 20 years of work experience in the US, I worry that WEP will reduce my SSA a lot.
    I have dual citizenship (US and Canada). I came to Canada to study (then to work). I lived in Canada for 18 years and worked for 14 years. Then I immigrated to the US and worked here for 17 years.
    I already stopped working and plan to receive SSA benefit in December 2023. I will be 68 years old in October 2023.
    My estimated SSA benefit is $2000 USD a month
    My estimated CPP benefit is $411CAD (= 300 USD) a month
    My estimated OAS benefit is $274CAD (= 200 USD) a month
    Since I do not have previous employers’ pensions, I will receive approximately $2000 a month (SSA benefit) if I only apply for SSA. Is it right?
    What are approximate $ amount of SSA, CPP and OAS I will receive when I apply for all SSA, CPP and OAS?
    Thank you in advance and have a nice day,
    Thomas D

    1. Hi Thomas, If you turn on all of your pension, you will probably have a WEP reduction of approximately $150 per month (half of your CPP). It almost always makes sense to turn on CPP, as the WEP reduction is only half of your CPP benefit. OAS does not impact WEP or your social security benefit.

      Thanks, Bryan

    2. Following – I did not think you could collect OAS now that you are living in the US unless you had 20 years of employment in Canada. Also I would be interested in any input on the “Total World income” you need to document on your Canadian Taxes. I am delaying collecting OAS until next year as I was over the threshold. Thanks

      1. After receiving several vague replies I scoured the internet and found this: In the same manner as the Totalization Agreement allows US SSA to grab half our CPP, we may also combine US and Canadian work years to attain the 20 year requirement for Canadian OAS even if we live overseas. When I called Moncton they had to revalidate my SIN because I’ve been out of Canada over 5 years. I just got that confirmation and will call again to get the steps down for OAS application. Processes and tools remain in the Dark Ages must like SSA.

      2. Hi Gabrielle,
        I, Thomas D, called Service Canada and was confirmed that I would be eligible for OAS because I worked in the US for 17 years. This number of years was added to 18 years I lived in Canada. Regards.

  45. Dear Mr. Haggard,

    Yesterday’s Webinar was great. The idea of converting RRSP to RIF to save 10% tax withhold is wonderful. I have learned a lot … but I still have the following 2 questions which I need your advice.
    My wife is a teacher in a school in Texas. She is 67 years old and plans to retire after I receive my SS benefit. Since she does not have enough years worked in the US, her pension will be TRS (Teacher Retirement System of Texas) benefit which is $600 plus Spousal benefit ($1000).

    Question 1 (Turn on TRS and Spousal benefits): Will she receive $1200 ($600 from TRS + $1000 from Spousal – $400 WEP, 2/3 of TRS)?

    Assuming that her CPP is $300 USD
    Question 2 (Turn on TRS, Spousal and CPP): Will she receive $1200 as above? Or $1050 (= $1200 – $150 which is half of CPP)?

    Thank you in advance and have a nice day,
    Thomas D

    1. Hi Thomas, Thanks for the kind comments. Unfortunately, your situation is a little more complicated than just dealing with WEP. Given your wife has a TRS, she will probably also be subject to GPO, which is usually a much bigger penalty than WEP. There is a GPO (Government Pension Offset) calculator on the social security website which I would suggest completing. You can do it here:

      Thanks, Thomas, and please let me know if you haveany questions.


      1. Dear Mr. Haggard,

        Thanks for your advice on 4/20/2023 at 7:22am.

        The website “” helped me to find out the answer of Question 1 (my wife will receive $1200 because GPO reduces SS Spouse Benefit by two-thirds of TRS benefit).

        Would you please help me on Question 2: In addition to GPO, will WEP reduce half of CPP (that means she will receive $1050)?

        Thank you in advance and have a nice day,
        Thomas D

  46. Thank you Bryan
    Is this GPO in effect if I have a canadian pension as a teacher (having paid into CPP as a teacher)? Or would this already be included within the WEP calculation?

  47. Hello. I am Canadian Citizen. I worked in Canada from 18-32. Married an American and moved to USA. I have been working 26 years in USA. Now 58. However – there was a brief period while I was getting my green card that they would not let me work. (3 months) and then (2 months – unemployed). Would this be counted as not working in the USA? Also – If I worked until 30 years total work (62 yrs old) – can I collect CCP and US SS? thanks

    1. Hi Shelly, Not working for a couple of months shouldn’t negatively impact your SS benefits. You can collect CPP and social security with your current work experience. Working for 30 years will help eliminate the WEP reduction which may increase your SS benefit.


  48. Hi Bryan,

    Thank you very much about your article about WEP. I would appreciate your help clarifying the following issue.

    According to the Social Security calculators (in the US gov Soc. Sec. sites), WEP is reducing my Social Security by more than 1/2 of my CPP. More precisely:

    My CPP is about 787 USD

    Without this CPP, the calculator estimates that I would get 3372 USD
    With this CPP, the calculator estimates that I will get 2760 USD

    So my WEP reduction is 612 USD, which is about 78% of my CPP.

    (I was told a similar estimate by a Social Security person that I called)

    In your original article you mentioned that the WEP reduction is never more than 50% of the CPP. Did the WEP rule change?

    Thank you very much!


    P.S. I worked in the US for 21 years (social security earnings: 1981-2001), and I have been working in Canada since 2001 (my CPP just started, at age 70).

    1. Hi Sam,
      Did you wait until age 70 to start CPP? In this case, you may see a greater than 50% WEP reduction. This is how the math works: Your Full Retirement Age (FRA) benefit is reduced by 50% of CPP. Given that your FRA is reduced by 50% of your CPP, you are seeing a smaller increase by waiting to start social security which results in WEP reduction of greater than 50% of your CPP.


  49. Hi Bryan,
    Thank you for the information you shared about WEP. I am 60.5 years old, in Jan 2023 I began collecting a survivor Social Security benefit as my husband passed away in Nov 2022. I moved from Canada to the US in 2003 to begin working as a Registered Nurse. I worked 40 quarters before I retired in 2014. I am eligible to begin collecting CPP, a small pension of $242.95 per month. I am wondering since I am on a survivor SS benefit will I be impacted by WEP?
    I am now spending approximately 5 months of the year in Canada and I have a Locked in Retirement Account (LIRA) that I am wondering if I should cash it out or can I convert it to a Life Income fund (LIF) which will be approximately $225 per month.

    Thank you for assisting me with this matter.

    1. Hi Jane, I’m sorry for your recent loss. My understanding is that your CPP should not result in a WEP reduction on a survivor SS Benefit. WEP will reduce your own benefit but not typically a spousal or survivor benefit. You may want to double check with SS to confirm.

      Unfortunately, I don’t have enough information about yourself to tell you what to do with your LIRA. It sounds like it is relatively small, so you may want to cash it out. However, you may prefer the monthly stream of income as well. That may be a better question for your financial advisor.

      Thanks, and good luck.

      Best regards,

  50. Bryan, your Q& A thread is absolutely fantastic, thanks very much for posting such a wealth of great information. Here is our situation………
    Worked 18 years in Canada plus 13 years in USA
    Turned 70 in March
    Received personal Social Security age 65 thru 70 + 3 months
    Now eligible for Social Security spousal benefits commencing in June
    Started CPP in March ($358 Cdn i.e $261USD)

    Worked 17 years in Canada plus 31 years in USA (and still working full-time)
    Turned 70 in June
    Received spousal Social Security age 65 thru 70
    Now eligible for Social Security personal benefits
    Starting CPP in June

    We received letters telling us that due to her CPP, she must repay $223 and I must repay $111 i.e. $334 x 2 months = $668 total reduction in SS benefits

    I understand her CPP is subject to WEP however, the total reduction in SS benefit will exceed the $261 x 2 = $522 CPP benefit received. This makes no sense to me and I plan to appeal the decision but would also appreciate your comments on this matter.

    Also, considering that I’m still working full-time and intend to continue for at least five more years, what process must I follow to have my SS benefit recalculated and updated each year?

    Final question…….Social Security spousal benefits for my wife are higher than when she was receiving her personal Social Security. Does CPP offer a similar arrangement?

    Thanks so much for your help.

    Best regards,

    1. Hi Richard,

      Thanks for the questions. A lot to unpack here. If you’d wife is going to start collecting a spousal social security benefit she shouldn’t have any WEP reduction. Your benefit should have no WEP reduction because you have over 30 years of work. Her spousal benefit should be half of your benefit, no matter if she is subject to a WEP reduction in her own benefit or not. I’d make sure this is how SS is also applying the rule. I don’t believe either of you should have WEP.

      SS will update each year once they get your new earnings and you will get an increase automatically in your benefit.

      No, unfortunately, there are no spousal CPP benefits.


  51. Hi Bryan, thank you for all your time and help!
    I am 61 year old Canadian living in Canada. I have 36 credits under Social security and 25 years of CPP Contribution. Would I qualify to collect Social Security if I apply next year at age 62? Do I have to apply to both CPP and SS at the same time to qualify? If I qualify, is there a rough number as to how much SS I may be able to collect?
    Thank you for your help!

    1. Hi Mike,

      Yes, you should qualify for SS at age 62 with your 36 credits when you add your years worked in Canada. No, you don’t need to apply for CPP now. U.S. will reach out to Canada to confirm you worked there as well. It typically takes a while though for this process to happen, so apply early. I’m not sure how large your SS benefit will be, I’d guess between $200 and $300 at age 62.

  52. Hi Bryan,
    My wife worked for 23 years in the US. She applied for Social Security with 62 and I get the spousal amount. She is 65 now and would like to apply for the CPP (only around 400 dollars a month). Now my understanding is, that the WEP will apply to her and reduce the Social Security. But does this also affect my Social Security payment?

    1. Hi Herbert,
      Yes, her SS benefit will be reduced because of the WEP reduction. This will result in a lower spousal SS benefit for you. However, there isn’t a further reduction for your benefit.


      1. Hi Bryan,
        Thank you so much for your response. I assumed that will happen.

  53. Bryan.

    Do you want to address OAS for US retirees. In particular what happens with clawback? In Canada clawback is based on individual income, but in us we file joint income tax. Is income going to be counted as split in half?

  54. Thanks for the clarification: Its kind of good news bad new: good news that I get no clawback, bad news that I only get 15/40 of OAS, because I left Canada in 1995, so am only eligible for partial pension, plus small CPP.

  55. Hi Bryan,

    Thank you for the wealth of information.
    If someone worked in Canada only for couple of years and
    1- worked in the US for few more years ( less than 10 years in total)
    2- worked in US for eight years
    3- worked in US for 10 years ( 40 credit)
    what is the eligibility for CCP and Social Security in each of the above scenarios if any?

    also to collect OAS one needs to be Canadian resident?

    1. Hello,
      To qualify for U.S. SS, you must have contributed to SS plus have made CPP contributions for at least 10 years. If you don’t hit that requirement, you won’t qualify for SS. If you contributed to CPP, even for a year, you should have a CPP benefit. You can collect OAS outside of Canada if you have lived in Canada for 20 years after 18. If you haven’t, you can use SS years worked to meet the 20 year requirement.


  56. Hi Bryan,
    I have over 30 years of contributions to SS (so should be WEP free) and also qualify for a small amount of CPP. I plan to wait until age 70 to draw SS but begin to draw CPP at age 69. If I draw CPP at age 69 I assume this will not make a difference to SS (i.e. starting CPP at 69 will not make my SS starting age 69 – but rather my SS will still be 70 if I choose to wait until 70 to claim SS). Is this correct? Thanks for your help.

  57. Hello Bryan,

    I am Canadian. I moved to US at the age of 25, and I know that OAS would not apply to me. However I worked both in Quebec and Ontario for a total 5 or 6 years. I worked in US for 37 years and just retired last month. I am now 67. Can I get CPP and if I do would my SS in US be reduced?

    Thanks for your help


    1. Hi,

      Yes, you may not have a huge benefit but you should get something. No, you have been here in the States long enough that you shouldn’t have a reduction in your SS benefit. No negatives of trying to collect it.


  58. Brian,
    A few years back you replied to me that my spouse collecting spousal benefits under SS ( she also qualifies under her own record but that amount is lower) would not be subject to the WEP on spousal benefits as she also has a CPP benefit which we are thinking of turning on. I have been doing some further reading and I am seeing albeit very confusing that even though my wife is collection Spousal benefits, the SSA considers that spousal benefit to be made up of part 1. her own benefit and part 2. a bump up to get her to the 50% of my the higher SS benefit at my full retirement age. I am seeing some articles concluding that the even though my wife is now getting spousal benefits, the WEP will apply to what I called part 1 ( her own benefit amount before the bump). Can you let me know if you have seen this application of the WEP to Spousal benefits? Thank you.

    1. Hi Tony,

      Thanks for the question. I still haven’t seen a client lose out in his/her spousal benefit as a result of WEP. We work with over 150 clients so that is a pretty large sample size. However, there tend to be a lot of discrepancies with SS and WEP so I can’t tell you for certain that WEP won’t apply to your spouse. However, I haven’t seen it and haven’t read anywhere in SS website where it would apply.


Leave a Reply