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Substantial Earnings With Regard to WEP

Windfall

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If you’re subject to the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP), your Social Security retirement benefit can be reduced in the first bend point to as little as 40% from the normal 90% rate.  The WEP applies if you worked in a job that did not require Social Security withholding in addition to a job that was subject to Social Security withholding.

However, if you’ve worked in the Social Security-covered job for a significant amount of time and the amount of earnings you received there was substantial, it is possible that the reduction due to WEP could be lessened and possibly eliminated.

According to the Social Security Administration, substantial earnings is defined as an amount equal or above the amounts shown in the table below:

Year Substantial Earnings
1937-1954 $900
1955-1958 $1,050
1959-1965 $1,200
1966-1967 $1,650
1968-1971 $1,950
1972 $2,250
1973 $2,700
1974 $3,300
1975 $3,525
1976 $3,825
1977 $4,125
1978 $4,425
1979 $4,725
1980 $5,100
1981 $5,550
1982 $6,075
1983 $6,675
1984 $7,050
1985 $7,425
1986 $7,825
1987 $8,175
1988 $8,400
1989 $8,925
1990 $9,525
1991 $9,900
1992 $10,350
1993 $10,725
1994 $11,250
1995 $11,325
1996 $11,625
1997 $12,150
1998 $12,675
1999 $13,425
2000 $14,175
2001 $14,925
2002 $15,750
2003 $16,125
2004 $16,275
2005 $16,725
2006 $17,475
2007 $18,150
2008 $18,975
2009-2011 $19,800

So, if your earnings from your Social Security-covered job are substantial according to the table above, it is possible to change the reduction factor, increasing it from the standard 45% – and even possibly eliminating it, depending upon how many years you’ve earned those substantial earnings.

As long as you’ve had those substantial earnings for more than 20 years, follow the table below to determine what your first bend point factor would be.

Years First Bend Point
Percentage Factor
30 or more 90%
29 85%
28 80%
27 75%
26 70%
25 65%
24 60%
23 55%
22 50%
21 45%
20 or less 40%

What this means is that if you had 20 or fewer years in a Social Security-covered job with substantial earnings, your WEP-reduced factor on the first bend point is 40%.  For each year more than 20 of substantial earnings, your WEP-reduced factor increases by 5%, and if you have 30 or more years of substantial earnings, the WEP doesn’t impact your first bend point factor at all.

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3 Comments

  1. [...] There is a table of substantial earnings. Found one listing of it here: Substantial Earnings With Regard to WEP – Getting Your Financial Ducks In A Row [...]

  2. Jim HaskinsNo Gravatar says:

    Be sure to inform veterans that if they were low ranking service people in the 1960′s they did not meet the substantial earnings amount, however SS is supposed to add an amount that reaches the limit. At my first contact with SS the interviewer did not know this and didn’t count a year. I corrected her error later.

    1. jblankenshipNo Gravatar says:

      Thanks for the information, Jim. I wasn’t aware of that provision – great to hear that this is available for our veterans!

      jb