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International Programs

Totalization Agreement with Finland

SSA Publication No. 05-10185, July 2008, ICN 469039 [OMB Approval Number: 0960-0554 Expires 12/31/2016]

Contents

Introduction
Coverage and Social Security taxes
Certificate of coverage
Monthly benefits
A Finnish EPS pension may affect your U.S. benefit
What you need to know about Medicare
Claims for benefits
For more information

Introduction

An agreement effective November 1, 1992, between the United States and Finland improves Social Security protection for people who work or have worked in both countries. It helps many people who, without the agreement, would not be eligible for monthly retirement, disability or survivors benefits under the Social Security system of one or both countries. It also helps people who would otherwise have to pay Social Security taxes to both countries on the same earnings.

The agreement covers Social Security taxes (including the U.S. Medicare portion) and Social Security retirement, disability and survivors insurance benefits. It does not cover benefits under the U.S. Medicare program or the Supplemental Security Income program.

This document covers highlights of the agreement and explains how it may help you while you work and when you apply for benefits.

 

The agreement may help you, your family and your employer

  • While you work––If your work is covered by both the U.S. and Finnish Social Security systems, you (and your employer, if you are employed) would normally have to pay Social Security taxes to both countries for the same work. However, the agreement eliminates this double coverage so you pay taxes to only one system (see the section on "Coverage and Social Security taxes").
  • When you apply for benefits––You may have some Social Security credits in both the U.S. and Finland but not have enough to be eligible for benefits in one country or the other. The agreement makes it easier to qualify for benefits by letting you add together your Social Security credits in both countries. For more details, see the section on "Monthly benefits".

Coverage and Social Security taxes

Before the agreement, employees, employers and self-employed people could, under certain circumstances, be required to pay Social Security taxes to both the United States and Finland for the same work.

Under the agreement, if you work as an employee in the United States, you normally will be covered by the United States, and you and your employer will pay Social Security taxes only to the United States. If you work as an employee in Finland, you normally will be covered by Finland, and you and your employer pay Social Security taxes only to Finland.

On the other hand, if your employer sends you from one country to work for that employer or an affiliate in the other country for five years or less, you will continue to be covered by your home country and you will be exempt form coverage in the other country. For example, if a U.S. company sends an employee to work for that employer or an affiliate in Finland for no more than five years, the employer and the employee will continue to pay only U.S. Social Security taxes and will not have to pay in Finland.

If you are self-employed and reside in the United States or Finland, you generally will be covered and taxed only by the country where you reside.

Note
In addition to retirement, survivors and disability benefits, Finnish Social Security taxes cover several other programs including sickness and maternity insurance and child allowance benefits. As a result, workers exempted from Finnish Social Security coverage by the agreement pay no Social Security taxes for these programs and generally cannot receive benefits from them. If the agreement exempts you from Finnish coverage, you and your employer may wish to arrange for alternative benefit protection.

Summary of agreement rules

The following table shows whether your work is covered under the U.S. or Finnish Social Security system. If you are covered under U.S. Social Security, you and your employer (if you are an employee) must pay U.S. Social Security taxes. If you are covered under the Finnish system, you and your employer (if you are an employee) must pay Finnish Social Security taxes. The "Certificate of coverage" section explains how to get a form from the country where you are covered that will prove you are exempt in the other country.

Your work status

Coverage and taxes

You are working in Finland:

For a U.S. employer who:

  • Sent you to work in Finland for five years or less

U.S.

  • Sent you to work in Finland for more than five years

Finland

  • Hired you in Finland

Finland

For a non-U.S. employer

Finland

For the U.S. government and you are a:
  • U.S. national

U.S. (either Social Security or federal retirement program

  • Finnish national
Finland

You are working in the U.S.:

For an employer in Finland who:
  • Sent you to work in the U.S. for five years or less

Finland

  • Sent you to work in the U.S. for more than five years

U.S.

  • Hired you in the U.S.

U.S.

For a non-Finnish employer

U.S.

For the Finnish government and you are a:

  • Finnish national

Finland

  • U.S. citizen
U.S.

You are self-employed and you:

  • Reside in the U.S.

U.S.

  • Reside in Finland

Finland

If this table doesn't seem to describe your situation and you are:

  • Working in the U.S.

Write to the U.S. address in "U.S. certificates" section for further information.

  • Working in Finland

Write to the Finnish address in "For More Information" section for further information.

 

Note
As the table indicates, a U.S. worker employed in Finland can be covered by U.S. Social Security only if he or she works for a U.S. employer. A U.S. employer includes a corporation organized under the laws of the United States or any state, a partnership if at least two-thirds of the partners are U.S. residents, a person who is a resident of the U.S. or a trust if all the trustees are U.S. residents. The term also includes a foreign affiliate of a U.S. employer if the U.S. employer has entered into an agreement with the Internal Revenue Service under section 3121(l) of the Internal Revenue Code to pay Social Security taxes for U.S. citizens and residents employed by the affiliate.

Certificate of coverage

A certificate of coverage issued by one country serves as proof of exemption from Social Security taxes on the same earnings in the other country.

 

Certificates for employees

To establish an exemption from compulsory coverage and taxes under the Finnish system, your employer must request a certificate of coverage (form USA/FI 1) from the U.S. at this address:

Social Security Administration
Office of International Programs
P.O. Box 17741
Baltimore, Maryland 21235-7741
USA

If preferred, the request may be sent by FAX to (410) 966-1861. Please note this FAX number should only be used to request certificates of coverage. 

No special form is required to request a certificate but the request must be in writing and provide the following information:

  • Full name of worker (including paternal and maternal surnames);
  • Date and place of birth;
  • Citizenship;
  • Country of worker’s permanent residence;
  • U.S. Social Security number;
  • Date of hire;
  • Country of hire;
  • Name and address of the employer in the U.S. and Finland; and
  • Date of transfer and anticipated date of return.

In addition, your employer must indicate if you remain an employee of the U.S. company while working in Finland or if you become an employee of the U.S. company’s affiliate in Finland. If you become an employee of an affiliate, your employer must indicate if the U.S. company has an agreement with the IRS under section 3121(l) of the Internal Revenue Code to pay U.S. Social Security taxes for U.S. citizens and residents employed by the affiliate and, if yes, the effective date of the agreement.

Your employer can also request a certificate of U.S. coverage for you over the Internet using a special online request form available at www.socialsecurity.gov/coc. Only an employer can use the online form to request a certificate of coverage. A self-employed person must submit a request by mail or fax.

To establish your exemption from coverage under the U.S. Social Security system, your employer in Finland must request a certificate of coverage (form FI/USA 1) from Finland at this address:

The Central Pension Security Institute
Legal Department
FIN-00065 ELAKETURVAKESKUS
FINLAND

The same information required for a certificate of coverage from the United States is needed to get a certificate from Finland except that you must show your Finnish social insurance number rather than your U.S. Social Security number.

 

Certificates for self-employed people

If you are self-employed and would normally have to pay Social Security taxes to both the U.S. and Finnish systems, you can establish your exemption from one of the taxes.

  • If you reside in the United States, write to the U.S. Social Security Administration at the address in "Certificates for employees" section; or
  • If you reside in Finland, write to the Central Pension Security Institute at the address in "Certificates for employees" section.

Be sure to provide the following information in your letter:

  • Full name;
  • Date and place of birth;
  • Citizenship;
  • Country of permanent residence;
  • U.S. and/or Finnish Social Security number;
  • Nature of self-employment activity;
  • Dates the activity was or will be performed; and
  • Name and address of your trade or business in both countries.

 

Effective date of coverage exemption

The certificate of coverage you receive from one country will show the effective date of your exemption from paying Social Security taxes in the other country. Generally, this will be the date you began working in the other country.

Certificates of coverage issued by Finland should be retained by the employer in the United States in case of an audit by the IRS. No copies should be sent to IRS unless specifically requested by IRS. However, a self-employed person must attach a photocopy of the certificate to his or her tax return each year as proof of the U.S. exemption. 

Copies of certificates of coverage issued by the United States will be provided for both the employee and the employer. It will be their responsibility to present the certificate to the Finnish authorities when requested to do so. To avoid any difficulties, your employer (or you, if you are self-employed) should request a certificate as early as possible, preferably before your work in the other country begins.

If you or your employer request a certificate of coverage, you should read the Privacy Act and Paperwork Reduction Act Statements below.

 

Authority to collect information for a certificate of coverage

Privacy Act

The Privacy Act requires us to notify you that we are authorized to collect this information by section 233 of the Social Security Act. While it is not mandatory for you to furnish the information to the Social Security Administration (SSA), a certificate of coverage cannot be issued unless a request has been received. The information is needed to enable Social Security to determine if work should be covered only under the U.S. Social Security system in accordance with an international agreement. Without the certificate, work may be subject to taxation under both the U.S. and the foreign Social Security systems.

Paperwork Reduction Act Notice

This information collection meets the clearance requirements of 44 U.S.C. section 3507, as amended by section 2 of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. You are not required to answer these questions unless we display a valid Office of Management and Budget (OMB) control number. We estimate that it will take you about 30 minutes to read the instructions, gather the necessary facts, and write down the information to request a certificate of coverage.

Monthly benefits

The following table shows the various types of Social Security benefits payable under the U.S. and Finnish Social Security ­systems and briefly describes the eligibility requirements that normally apply for each type of benefit. If you do not meet the normal requirements for these benefits, the agreement may help you to qualify (see "How benefits can be paid" section).

We should point out that Finland pays benefits through two separate programs. The National Pension Scheme (NPS) pays flat-rate benefits to people who meet certain residence requirements. The Employment Pension Scheme (EPS) pays benefits based on a worker’s earnings and total years of coverage.

This table is only a general guide. You can get more specific information about U.S. benefits here on our web site or at any U.S. Social Security office or by calling our toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213. You can get more detailed information about the Finnish system by ­writing to the appropriate Finnish pension scheme or by visiting its website. Postal and website addresses are shown in "For more information" section.

Under U.S. Social Security, you may earn up to four credits each year depending on the amount of your covered earnings. The amount needed to earn a work credit goes up slightly each year. For more information, ask for How You Earn Credits (Publication No. 05-10072). Under the Finnish system, credits are measured in months. To simplify the information in the table, requirements are shown in years of credits.

 

Monthly benefits and eligibility requirements

Retirement or old-age benefits
United States Finland
Worker-Full benefit at full retirement age. Reduced benefit as early as age 62.
Required work credits range from one and one-half to 10 years (10 years if 62 in 1991 or later).

Worker-

NPS: Full pension at age 65 with 40 years of residence in Finland or reduced pension as early as age 60. A Finnish national must currently reside in Finland and have resided in Finland for at least three years after age 16. If not a Finnish national, must currently reside in Finland and must have resided in Finland for five continuous years immediately before entitlement.

EPS: Full pension at age 65 or reduced pension as early as age 60. At least one month of covered work is required.

Disability Benefits
United States Finland
Worker-Under full retirement age can get benefit if unable to do any substantial gainful work for at least a year.  One and one-half to 10 years credit needed, depending on age at date of onset.  Some recent work credits also needed unless worker is blind.

Worker-

NPS: At age 16-64 can get pension if impairment prevents regular occupation or similar work. A Finnish national must currently reside in Finland and have resided in Finland for at least three years after age 16. If not a Finnish national, must currently reside in Finland and must have resided in Finland for five continuous years immediately before disability began.

EPS: At age 15-64 with at least 40 percent loss of work capability and impairment expected to last at least one year. At least one month of covered work is required.

Family benefits to dependents of retired or disabled people
United States Finland
Spouse-Full benefit at full retirement age or at any age if caring for the worker's entitled child under age 16 (or disabled before age 22).  Reduced benefit as early as age 62 if not caring for a child. Spouse-No provision.
Divorced Spouse-Full benefit at full retirement age.  Reduced benefit as early as age 62.  Must be unmarried and have been married to worker for at least 10 years. Divorced Spouse-No provision.
Children-If unmarried, up to age 18 (age 19 if in an elementary or secondary school full time) or any age if disabled before age 22. Children-No provision.

Survivors benefits

United States Finland
Widow or widower-Full benefit at full retirement age or at any age if caring for the deceased's entitled child under age 16 (or disabled before age 22).  Reduced benefit as early as age 60 (or age 50 if disabled) if not caring for a child.  Benefits may be continued if remarriage occurs after age 60 (or age 50 if disabled).

Widow or widower-

NPS: Deceased must have resided in Finland at the time of his or her death. If Finnish national, widow or widower must currently reside in Finland or have moved to Finland during the year following the deceased’s death and must have resided in Finland for at least three years. If not a Finnish national, widow or widower must currently reside in Finland and must have resided in Finland for five continuous years immediately before the death of the deceased. In addition:

Widow or widower must be under age 65 and married to deceased before deceased was age 65 and:

  • They had a child in common, or
  • Widow or widower is at least age 50 and at time of marriage was under age 50 and the marriage lasted at least five years.

Childless widow (not widower) may also be eligible if married:

  • Before July 1, 1990, and before worker was age 65 and marriage lasted at least three years, or
  • After June 30, 1990, and she was under age 50 at time of marriage and deceased was under age 65, and marriage lasted at least five years.

EPS: Widow or widower benefit payable if married before the deceased was age 65 and either:

  • They had a child in common, or
  • Widow or widower was at least age 50 or disabled at time of worker’s death and the marriage occurred before the widow or widower was age 50 and lasted at least five years.

Childless widow (not widower) may also be eligible if married:

  • Before July 1, 1990, and the marriage lasted at least three years, or
  • After June 30, 1990, and she was under age 50 at the time and the marriage lasted at least five years.
Divorced widow or widower-Same as widow or widower if marriage lasted at least 10 years.

Divorced widow or widower-

NPS: No provision.

EPS: Same as widow or widower if entitled to alimony payments from the deceased.

Children-Same as for children of retired or disabled worker.

Children-

NPS: Under age 18, or age 21 if a student, and must reside in Finland at the date of the deceased’s death or must have moved to Finland during the year following the deceased’s death. There are no citizenship or qualifying period requirements.

EPS: Under age 18.

Lump-sum death benefit-A one-time payment not to exceed $255 payable on the death of an insured worker.

Lump-sum death benefit-

NPS: No provision.

EPS: No provision.

 

How benefits can be paid

If you have Social Security credits in both the United States and Finland, you may be eligible for benefits from one or both countries. If you meet all the basic requirements under one country’s system, you will get a regular benefit from that country. If you do not meet the basic requirements, the agreement may help you qualify for a benefit as explained below.

  • Benefits from the U.S––If you do not have enough work credits under the U.S. system to qualify for regular benefits, you may be able to qualify for a partial benefit from the United States based on both U.S. and Finnish credits. However, to be eligible to have your Finnish credits counted, you must have earned at least six credits (generally one and one-half years of work) under the U.S. system. If you already have enough credits under the U.S. system to qualify for a benefit, the United States cannot count your Finnish credits.
  • Benefits from Finland––Finland provides retirement, survivors and disability benefits through two separate programs.

    1. The National Pension Scheme (NPS) pays flat-rate benefits to Finnish nationals who live in Finland. People who are not Finnish nationals may also qualify for NPS benefits, but only if they reside in Finland for five continuous years immediately before entitlement.

      The agreement makes it possible for U.S. and Finnish nationals who live in the United States, as well as U.S. nationals in Finland, to qualify for NPS retirement and survivors benefits if they have resided in Finland for five continuous years anytime after age 16. The five years of residence does not have to occur immediately before entitlement.

    2. The Employment Pension Scheme (EPS) pays benefits based on the worker’s earnings level and total years of work. A person can qualify for an EPS benefit with as little as one month of EPS coverage. Therefore, work credits under the U.S. system will not be counted when determining eligibility for EPS benefits.

 

How credits get counted

You do not have to do anything to have your credits in one country counted by the other country. If we need to count your credits under the Finnish system to help you qualify for a U.S. benefit, we will get a copy of your Finnish record directly from Finland when you apply for benefits. If Finnish officials need to count your U.S. credits to help you qualify for a Finnish benefit, they will get a copy of your U.S. record directly from the Social Security Administration when you apply for the Finnish benefit.

Although each country may count your credits in the other country, your credits are not actually transferred from one country to the other. They remain on your record in the country where you earned them and also can be used to qualify for benefits there.

 

Computation of U.S. benefit under the agreement

When a U.S. benefit becomes payable as a result of counting both U.S. and Finnish Social Security credits, an initial benefit is determined based on your U.S. earnings as if your entire career had been completed under the U.S. system. This initial benefit is then reduced to reflect the fact that Finnish credits helped to make the benefit payable. The amount of the reduction will depend on the number of U.S. credits: the more U.S. credits, the smaller the reduction; and the fewer U.S. credits, the larger the reduction.

Finnish EPS pension may affect your U.S. benefit

If you qualify for Social Security benefits from the United States and a Finnish Employment Pension Scheme (EPS) benefit and you did not need the agreement to qualify for the U.S. benefit, the amount of your U.S. benefit may be reduced. This is a result of a provision in U.S. law which can affect the way your benefit is figured if you also receive a pension based on work that was not covered by U.S. Social Security. Receipt of a Finnish National Pension Scheme (NPS) pension, which is based on residence in Finland, will not affect the way your U.S. benefit is figured.

For more information, call our toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213, and get the publication, Windfall Elimination Provision (Publication No. 05-10045). If you are outside the United States, you may write to us at the address in "For more information" section.

What you need to know about Medicare

Medicare is the U.S. national health insurance program for ­people age 65 or older or who are disabled. Medicare has four parts:

  • Hospital insurance (Part A) helps pay for inpatient hospital care and certain follow-up services.
  • Medical insurance (Part B) helps pay for doctors’ services, outpatient hospital care and other medical services.
  • Medicare Advantage plans (Part C) are available in many areas. People with Medicare Parts A and B can choose to receive all of their health care services through a provider organization under Part C.
  • Prescription drug coverage (Part D) helps pay for medications doctors prescribe for medical treatment.

You are eligible for free hospital insurance at age 65 if you have worked long enough under U.S. Social Security to qualify for a retirement benefit. People born in 1929 or later need 40 credits (about 10 years of covered work) to ­qualify for retirement benefits.

Although the agreement between the United States and Finland allows the Social Security Administration to count your Finnish EPS credits to help you qualify for U.S. retirement, disability or survivors benefits, the agreement does not cover Medicare benefits. As a result, we cannot count your credits in Finland to establish entitlement to free Medicare hospital insurance.

For more information about Medicare, call our toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213, and ask for the publication, Medicare (Publication No. 05-10043) or visit Medicare’s website at www.medicare.gov.

Claims for benefits

If you live in the United States and wish to apply for U.S. or Finnish benefits:

  • Visit or write any U.S. Social Security office; or
  • Phone our toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. any business day. People who are deaf or hard of hearing may call our toll-free TTY number, 1-800-325-0778.

You can apply for Finnish benefits at any U.S. Social Security office by completing an application form SSA-2490.

If you live in Finland and wish to apply for U.S. or Finnish benefits, contact:

  • The Federal Benefits Unit at the U.S. Embassy in Oslo, Norway, (phone 47-2-2448-550) to file for U.S. benefits; or
  • Any Finnish Social Security office to file for Finnish benefits.

You can apply with one country and ask to have your application considered as a claim for benefits from the other country. Information from your application will then be sent to the other country. Each country will process the claim under its own laws—counting credits from the other country when appropriate—and notify you of its decision.

If you have not applied for benefits before, you may need to provide certain information and documents when you apply. These include the worker’s U.S. and Finnish Social Security numbers, proof of age for all claimants, evidence of the worker’s U.S. earnings in the past 24 months and information about the worker’s coverage under the Finnish system. You may wish to call the Social Security office before you go there to see if any other information is needed.

Payment of benefits

Each country pays its own benefit. U.S. payments are made by the U.S. Department of Treasury each month and cover benefits for the preceding month. Payments under the Finnish system are generally made every three months and cover the prior two months plus the current month.

 

Absence from U.S. territory

Normally, persons who are not U.S. citizens may receive U.S. Social Security benefits while outside the U.S. only if they meet certain requirements. Under the agreement, however, you may receive benefits as long as you reside in Finland regardless of your nationality. If you are not a U.S. or Finnish citizen and live in another country, you may not be able to receive benefits. The restrictions on U.S. benefits are explained in the publication, Your Payments While You Are Outside The United States (Publication No. 05-10137).

 

Appeals

If you disagree with the decision made on your claim for benefits under the agreement, contact any U.S. or Finnish Social Security office. The people there can tell you what you need to do to appeal the decision.

The Finnish Social Security authorities will review your appeal if it affects your rights under the Finnish system, while U.S. Social Security authorities will review your appeal if it affects your rights under the U.S. system. Since each country’s decisions are made independently of the other, a decision by one country on a particular issue may not always conform with the decision made by the other country on the same issue.

For more information

To file a claim for U.S. or Finnish benefits under the agreement, follow the instructions in "Claims for benefits" section.

To find out more about U.S. Social Security benefits or for information about a claim for benefits, contact any U.S. Social Security office or call our toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213. If you live outside the United States, write to:

Social Security Administration
OIO—Totalization
P.O. Box 17769
Baltimore, Maryland 21235-7769
USA

For more information about Finland’s Social Security programs, visit any Social Security office in Finland. If you do not live in Finland, write to the following addresses.

For more information about the National Pension Scheme (NPS), write to:

Social Insurance Institution
P.O. Box 82
SF-00601 Helsinki
FINLAND

For more information about the Employment Pension Scheme (EPS), write to:

The Central Pension Security Institute
Legal Department
FIN-00065 ELAKETURVAKESKUS
FINLAND

If you do not wish to file a claim for benefits but would like more information about the agreement, write to:

Social Security Administration
Office of International Programs
P.O. Box 17741
Baltimore, Maryland 21235-7741
USA

For additional information visit our website: www.socialsecurity.gov/international.