How working in a job NOT paying into Social Security affects you and your survivor

If you, or your spouse, works (or ever worked) for a government, teacher, or other employer and you did NOT pay into Social Security (referred to as uncovered employment), then your and/or your spouses benefits may be adjusted. Here is information for these type of employees that affect your Social Security benefits.

This comes as an unpleasant surprise to many since they may receive statements from Social Security telling them what their benefit would be at the three various ages. However, Social Security does NOT know about your uncovered employment that you did NOT pay into Social Security, so those benefit statements do NOT include these adjustments!

There are two (2) ways benefits are affected:

1) Law that affects YOUR benefit: Your (Worker’s/Government Pensioner) Social Security Benefit may be reduced, but not eliminated, by Windfall Elimination Provisions (WEP).

  • WEP reduces the benefit of the pensioner if the pensioner has less than 30 years paid into Social Security (along with other substantial earnings rules). Here’s how.

2) Law that affects spouses and widows/widowers: The Government Pension Offset (GPO) applies to government pensioner’s applying for Social Security Spousal or Survivor benefits (pensioner is applying on another’s record).

  • GPO affects both spousal and survivor benefits (reduces benefits by 2/3s of uncovered pension) … if spousal/survivor benefits less than 2/3rd, then no Social Security is paid.
  • WEP is applied to benefit first; then GPO applied to that WEP benefit for spousal and survivor benefits.
  • If pension “dies with pensioner” and survivor receives no pension benefit, then GPO does not apply.

These adjustments may be confusing … I am always available to help you work through how they may apply to you if you (or your spouse) have ever had employment where you (they) did not pay into Social Security.


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3 Responses to How working in a job NOT paying into Social Security affects you and your survivor

  1. Larry Frank, Sr. March 7, 2013 at 6:02 am #

    The WEP adjustment is applied to the non-covered worker’s Primary Insurance Amount (PIA) and thus does have an affect on benefits to others who also depend on the non-covered worker’s social security benefit (spouse and survivor benefits for example).

  2. Larry Frank, Sr. April 18, 2015 at 7:37 am #

    A technical article in the Journal of Financial Planning on how WEP works:

  3. Larry Frank, Sr. April 27, 2016 at 3:54 pm #

    Exemptions from the GPO are listed on this SSA page:

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