Can You Collect Social Security and a Pension at the Same Time? A Comprehensive Guide

Keywords: Social Security, pension, retirement income, Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP), Government Pension Offset (GPO), benefits, eligibility, reduction, earnings test


This article explores the intricate relationship between Social Security and pensions, addressing the question of whether individuals can simultaneously receive both forms of retirement income. While claiming both is possible, certain factors can influence the amount of Social Security benefits received, particularly for those with pensions from non-covered employment.

Understanding Social Security and Pensions:

  • Social Security: A government-funded program providing retirement, disability, and survivor benefits to eligible individuals. Funding comes from payroll taxes paid by employees and employers.
  • Pensions: Retirement plans offered by employers, typically funded by contributions from both the employer and employee. Benefits are paid out upon retirement, often based on factors like years of service and salary.

Collecting Both Social Security and a Pension:

  • Covered Employment: If your pension stems from covered employment where you paid Social Security taxes, it won’t affect your Social Security benefits.
  • Non-Covered Employment: If your pension comes from non-covered employment where you didn’t pay Social Security taxes, your benefits might be reduced due to the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP).

The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP):

  • Applies to individuals who receive a pension from non-covered employment and also qualify for Social Security benefits based on covered employment.
  • Reduces Social Security benefits by a specific formula, considering the amount of time spent in covered employment.
  • The maximum reduction is 50% of the non-covered pension amount.

The Government Pension Offset (GPO):

  • Applies to spouses, ex-spouses, widows, and widowers who receive a non-covered government pension and also qualify for Social Security spousal or survivor benefits.
  • Reduces Social Security spousal or survivor benefits by up to two-thirds of the government pension amount.
  • In some cases, the spousal or survivor benefit could be reduced to zero.

Important Considerations:

  • Pensions do not affect the Social Security earnings test, which can reduce benefits for individuals who continue working after claiming benefits.
  • Pensions do count toward income when determining whether your Social Security benefits are taxable.

While collecting both Social Security and a pension is possible, individuals with pensions from non-covered employment should be aware of potential reductions due to the WEP or GPO. Understanding these provisions and their implications is crucial for planning a secure retirement.

Additional Resources:


This article provides general information and should not be considered legal advice. Consult with a financial advisor or legal professional for specific guidance regarding your individual circumstances.

Exceptions to the WEP and GPO

  • You were employed by the federal government in 1984 or later.
  • You work for a nonprofit organization that satisfies additional requirements and was exempt from Social Security as of December 31, 1983.
  • You only have a railroad pension.
  • The portion of your income that wasn’t subject to FICA taxes was earned before 1957.
  • You’ve made significant income for at least 30 years, during which time FICA taxes have been paid.

Benefits for spouses, former spouses, widows and widowers

If youre married but have fewer than 40 credits, you may qualify for a spousal benefit of up to half the amount your spouse is eligible for at their full retirement age, under certain conditions. If you do have enough credits but your benefit based on your own earnings record would be less than the spousal benefit, you may be awarded your benefit plus an additional amount that brings the total up to the level of the spousal benefit.

You might be qualified for a spousal benefit equal to half of your ex-spouse’s benefit at their full retirement age if you’re divorced and meet certain requirements.

If you’ve reached full retirement age and your spouse has passed away, you may be eligible for a survivors benefit equal to the full amount of their benefit, or a lesser amount if you’re taking the benefit earlier.

How Pension Income Affects Social Security Benefits


How much will my Social Security be reduced if I have a pension?

How much will my Social Security benefits be reduced? We’ll reduce your Social Security benefits by two-thirds of your government pension. In other words, if you get a monthly civil service pension of $600, two-thirds of that, or $400, must be deducted from your Social Security benefits.

Does a pension affect Social Security income?

Pension payments, annuities, and the interest or dividends from your savings and investments are not earnings for Social Security purposes. You may need to pay income tax, but you do not pay Social Security taxes.

When can I take Social Security if I have a pension?

Usually, receiving a pension doesn’t change the Social Security benefits you’re eligible for. As long as your employer withheld FICA taxes, which are the payroll taxes that pay for Social Security and Medicare, you’re all set.

Does pension count as income?

If you receive retirement benefits in the form of pension or annuity payments from a qualified employer retirement plan, all or some portion of the amounts you receive may be taxable unless the payment is a qualified distribution from a designated Roth account.

Can I get both a pension and Social Security benefits?

Yes. There is nothing that precludes you from getting both a pension and Social Security benefits. But there are some types of pensions that can reduce Social Security payments. If your pension is from what Social Security calls “covered” employment, in which you paid Social Security payroll taxes, it has no effect on your benefits.

Can I get Social Security retirement and work at the same time?

When you begin receiving Social Security retirement benefits, you are considered retired for our purposes. You can get Social Security retirement or survivors benefits and work at the same time. However, there is a limit to how much you can earn and still receive full benefits.

Can I get Social Security & survivors benefits at the same time?

You can get Social Security retirement or survivors benefits and work at the same time. However, there is a limit to how much you can earn and still receive full benefits. If you are younger than full retirement age and earn more than the yearly earnings limit, we may reduce your benefit amount.

Do pensions count toward social security benefits?

Pensions are not counted toward the earnings test that can reduce your Social Security payments if you continue to work after claiming benefits. Pensions do count toward income for the purpose of determining whether you pay taxes on your Social Security benefits. Nothing precludes you from getting both a pension and Social Security benefits.

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