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When Does WEP NOT Impact My Social Security?


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Recently we covered the Windfall Elimination Provision a bit more completely, including how to eliminate WEP and how WEP can impact your dependents. This prompted quite a few folks to write to me about their own situations, wondering if WEP would impact them.  So today we’ll cover those cases where you might be wondering about this, when WEP does NOT impact your Social Security.

First of all, if you have worked all your life in a job where Social Security tax was withheld, WEP does not impact your Social Security at all. This is true even if you worked in a government job – as long as your wages (earnings) were subject to Social Security tax withholding, WEP will not impact you.

As well, if you have worked and received substantial earnings from Social Security covered jobs for 30 or more years during your career, and you also have a pension coming from a non-SS-covered job, then WEP will not impact your Social Security benefit.

In addition, if you worked in a job where the earnings were not subject to Social Security tax withholding, but you didn’t work there long enough to generate a pension from those earnings, then WEP will also not impact your Social Security. This is to say, if you do not have a pension (of any type, lump sum, annuity, or other) coming from the non-Social Security-covered job, WEP does not impact your Social Security.

Also, if you are receiving a pension based on someone else’s work – your spouse for instance – that was not subject to Social Security taxation, this pension will not cause WEP impact to your own Social Security, or to a spouse benefit from Social Security. WEP is based upon a pension being received for YOUR work, and it would impact YOUR retirement Social Security benefit. In this case, the pension is not based on your work, it is based on your spouse’s work.

Lastly, if you have received a lump sum payment of a pension from a job where Social Security taxes were not withheld, and you have lived past the actuarially-defined timespan that the pension was determined to last, then WEP will no longer impact your Social Security benefit.

I can’t say for sure that this is an exhaustive list – this is just the list that comes to mind at the moment. If you have other situations where WEP is not impacting you, please let me know in the comments section below.


  1. Terrence Patrick Donnelly says:

    My wife is 74 and is receiving her full social security since age 70. She just signed on to a substitute teacher. Siging up for an IRA was mandatory and she got a form that said she was aware that she would be effected by the WEP. At her age can they still cut her SS when she stops subbing?

    1. jblankenship says:

      If the work as a substitute teacher produces a pension, then WEP could apply to her. It’s limited to 50% of the amount of the pension, so if the pension is very small, then the reduction would be only half the monthly amount of the pension.

  2. Ken walker says:

    Would it make sense to withdraw my uk pension at age 66 and delay taking SS at age 70 to eliminate wep for four years?

    1. jblankenship says:

      It might, but with no information about the amount(s) of your pension and SS benefit, it’s difficult to say for sure if that would be the most beneficial route to go.

      Sure, by delaying SS benefits to 70 you’re getting the maximum SS benefit, but by delaying you’re also foregoing 48 months of benefit payments (even though there’s WEP reduction).

      An alternative to run the numbers against would be starting the SS benefit at your FRA and delaying the UK pension (if you can) to some later date.

      It may turn out that you’ve already thought through these scenarios, but thought I’d mention them for consideration.

  3. Lisa K says:

    I have not been able to find an answer to this question anywhere else so will try here. I live in Maine, am almost 58 years old and currently work for the state at a community college. I have 27 years of SS substantial earnings, and by the time I leave state service in 2023 at age 60 I will have worked there 17 years. I will be eligible for a state pension at age 65, which will be affected by WEP. What I cannot seem to find is how it will be affected by the age I take social security. If I take SS at 62, with pension starting at 65, what would that look like? Or if I waited until SS FRA at 67, or delayed until 70? I assume each age would mean a different reduction by I can find no calculator that does not assume both pension and SS start at the same age. Thank you.

    1. jblankenship says:

      WEP is applied only when you are first both receiving SS benefits and the pension. So if you start your SS benefit at age 62, WEP will not apply since your pension doesn’t start until 65. At 65 however, WEP will be applied. If you delayed your SS benefit to age 67, that’s when WEP will apply, same for age 70.

      WEP makes a change to your PIA, and so whenever WEP starts applying to you, your PIA is adjusted, which then is adjusted based on whatever your filing age is, and then if the filing age was in the past, COLAs are applied, resulting in your new benefit amount going forward.

  4. cindy says:

    I am 66 and 2 mo, FRA. I have no substantial earnings ,since 1976 because I was married and worked part time. I divorced and served as a bus driver earning a Cal Pers retirement for 13 years, which did not pay into SSA. My only substantial earnings paying into SSA are from 2016 to 2020 currently,(4 years) if I continue working this job until I am 71 (10 Years) will the WEP still apply to my own SS? Will the GPO apply to my spousal benefit, which ever is bigger. Is the amount of a pension the beginning amount, or does it include COLAS when figuring the amount of the penalty?

    1. jblankenship says:

      First question: if I continue working this job until I am 71 (10 Years) will the WEP still apply to my own SS? Yes, the WEP will apply until you have 30 years of substantial earnings.
      Second question: Will the GPO apply to my spousal benefit, which ever is bigger. If you are eligible for a spousal or survivor benefit, the GPO will apply.
      Third question: Is the amount of a pension the beginning amount, or does it include COLAS when figuring the amount of the penalty? Generally the applicable amount of the pension is the amount when you start the Social Security benefit, however, in some cases COLA adjustments to the pension are requested – this is a question for SSA to determine.

  5. Hershel E Stowell says:

    Here’s my question regarding the WEP and my pension. I worked for over 38 years as a police officer and my pay was not subject to social security withholding. Additionally, I worked in part time security jobs and the military/military reserves wherein I did pay into social security. By my calculation, I have 21 years of substantial earnings over the many years. Sadly, I missed some years by as little as $50.00 because I didn’t understand the impact. My police pension is based upon a defined contribution plan rather than a defined benefit plan. Since retiring, I have not touched the monies within my police defined contribution plan. I am currently living off of my deferred compensation plan (probably for about 6 years at least) and my employer made no contributions to my deferred compensation. All contributions were from me through the years. I have been told by some that as long as I don’t touch my police pension (to include rolling it), that the WEP will not apply until I make withdrawals from this plan at some point in the future. I have not been able to find much information on this but I do know that at least one person who was still working at my former department was drawing his full social security pension while still working at the police department. Do you have any information on this?

    1. jblankenship says:

      That’s how I understand it as well – until you “commence” the pension (in your case this means begin drawing from the defined contribution account), WEP does not apply.

  6. Hristo Hristov says:

    Mr. Blankenship,

    I am Canadian citizen and US permanent resident. I wonder whether my Canadian pensions earned before becoming a US resident are subject to WEP reduction of my US Social Security pension. I plan to apply for Social Security in October 2020 (turning 66, at full retirement age). I have been working and paying into the US social security through paycheck withholding since September 2001 when I moved to US and became a permanent resident till this moment). My Canadian pensions are based on short period (4 years) of employment and paycheck withholding into the Canadian Social Insurance (equivalent to the US Social Security). Since the last year, I am receiving a small pension from the Canadian Social Insurance. I also have 2 deferred Canadian pensions (one based on voluntary investments (RRSP), and another transferred by my former Canadian employer into mutual funds LIRA, both invested and hold in Canada.

    Thank you.

    1. jblankenship says:

      Most likely your Canadian Social Insurance pension will cause a WEP reduction to your US Social Security benefit. If the Canadian pension is relatively small, the WEP guarantee will cap the reduction at no more than 50% of the amount of the Canadian pension.

      1. Hristo Hristov says:

        Thank you very much, Mr. Blankenship!

        Would you be able to tell me whether my RRSP pension (deferred voluntary investment) and LIRA (deferred investment of money transferred by my employer at the time of employment separation) should be included in the calculation of the WEP reduction?

        It may be inconsequential for the SS law but I will pay 25% non-resident tax to Canada. In addition, California does not recognize my deferred pensions as deferred, so I have been paying state taxes on the interest earned under those 2 personal pensions. Counting the gross amount before taxes to reduce my earned social security pension seems beyond unreasonable. If those pensions are also counted for the WEP reduction, is it on the total amount at the time of claiming social security benefits or on the amount initially invested/transferred (LIRA)? Are taxes paid discounted for in the WEP calculation?

        Appreciate your help.

        1. jblankenship says:

          I believe the RRSP and LIRA are roughly equivalent to IRAs in the US – is that correct? If this is so, I don’t think these items are included as WEP-triggering pensions. You should confirm this with SSA, however.

          1. Hristo Hristov says:

            Thank you very much! RRSP is the equivalent to IRA. LIRA (Locked In Retirement Plan) in my case is money I got from my employer at the time of employment separation. It consists of my contributions and my employer contributions. I do not know whether this makes a difference. I just wonder which amount is counted for WEP reduction – the initial amount invested (transferred by my employer), the total at the time of withdrawal or the amount after Canadian 25% tax?

            Once again, appreciate your help.

          2. jblankenship says:

            Unfortunately we’ve reached the end of my knowledge on the subject. I suggest that you talk to SSA about this to determine which pension is required to be reported as WEP triggering.

  7. Dennis Odell says:

    I have over 30 years of substantial payments. I decided to become a teacher in Texas. I am under the rule of 90. If I retire at 67, I will have worked in teaching for 10 years, therefore, from my investigation, if I take a lump sum, I will not have any WEP. Although, from further review, whether I work until I reach the rule of 90 and get retirement or not, I could get both. BUT, if I do reach the rule of 90 and get both , then die, my wife would not get the fullness of both benefits. Is that right?

    1. jblankenship says:

      From your information provided, it sounds like your SS benefit will not be impacted by WEP since you have 30 years of substantial earnings subject to Social Security taxation. Upon your death, your wife (unless she is receiving a government pension based on her own work) will be eligible for a Social Security survivor benefit equal to the benefit you’ve been receiving, assuming her own Social Security retirement benefit is less than that amount.

      How the Texas teacher’s retirement system interplays with this, I don’t know. You’ll need to find an expert in that system to help you with that.

  8. DEBORAH says:

    Hope you can answer this. I fall under the WEP act. I work a SS job now will until I stop working. I will start collecting SS at 70 with 21 years of substantial social wages at that time. It appears my benefit can be reduced appx $432 at substantial earnings yr 21, $384 (yr 22), $336 (yr 23), $288 (yr. 24), $240 (yr. 25). I work a SS job now will until I stop working.

    My question is if I take the $432 reduction at 70 but continue to work, will Social Security raise my benefit annually and proportionally because I would be increasing my years of substantial earning each year I work past 70? I will try to work until 75.

    Also, general question if WEP or not, if one works beyond their Full Retirement after starting SS benefit, will SS benefit increase each year because we are continuing to contribute to Social Security?

    I enjoyed your article and looking forward to a response.

    1. Deborah says:

      P.S. I had to rethink this a bit. I will turn 69 this year 2020, which I counted as my 20th Substantial Year. But if my 70th birthday falls on Aug. 19, 2021 and I have well over the substantial amount met for 2021 at that time, with SS give me credit for 21 substantial years or only 20 since the full year hasn’t been completed?? Thank you again!!

    2. jblankenship says:

      Yes, as you work and earn additional substantial years of credit (YOC), annually these will be included in your calculation and the WEP reduction adjusted accordingly. The same applies to your overall benefit – if the current year’s earnings is greater than one of your top 35 earnings years, your benefit will adjust to include the higher amount.

      Regarding the question of timing of application of the YOC – this is done at the beginning of a calendar year, so your first year of benefits will only include 20 YOC, and then in the following January your benefit will be adjusted for the additional YOC. At least that’s my understanding – SSA will be the final judge on exactly when the credit is applied.

  9. John says:

    I am an American citizen. I worked and paid social security in America for 29 years (23 years of significant earnings). Then I moved to Ireland, where I now live. I have never worked in Ireland. My income since I moved to Ireland has come from rental property in Ireland, and also dividends and interest from an investment account held in America. The social security system in Ireland mandates that unearned income is subject to the Irish social security tax system. I have paid in enough social security tax in Ireland over the years, based on my unearned income, to be eligible for an Irish state pension. My question is, will this Irish pension, not based on work but on unearned income, trigger WEP on my US social security pension? I have done some research online and it appears to me that WEP is only triggered by pensions based on work. Is this correct? I would really appreciate any clarity on this question. Thank you very much.

    1. jblankenship says:

      According to the information I received from SSA, it is possible that the unearned income pension may be excluded from WEP triggering. You’ll need documentation from Ireland to support the claim, naturally. And when I indicate “it is possible” – the contact that I have at SSA is admits he is not an expert in this area, so it is possible that the claim could go the other way and trigger WEP after all. Your best bet is to visit (or call) SSA and start asking questions until you get a definitive answer.

  10. Franci says:

    Mr. Blankenship, I worked for a county job in California for 30 1/2 years that did not pay into Social Security( age 24 to 55). I started working at 16 to 24, plus various part time jobs throughout the years up to 55 that paid into SS. I also began working again in AZ for a government entity at age 55 (f5 1/2 years now which pays into SS). Went to SS and with WEP receiving $300 a month once retire in Dec. I am receiving a pension for CA County and heard if I reject the current city Pension currently working at now, Social Security will cancel the WEP penalty and I’ll get full SS pension? Thank you!!

    1. jblankenship says:

      Not sure I’m fully understanding your question… But if you no longer were receiving a pension that triggers WEP, then WEP would no longer apply.

      I don’t know why you would reject a pension simply to eliminate WEP. WEP is capped at no more than 50% of the pension amount (if the pension is small), so if you give up the pension the most you’d increase your SS by eliminating WEP would be 50% of the pension amount. Kinda like cutting off your nose to spite your face – unless I’m missing something altogether in your situation.

  11. RJ Smith says:

    My wife has worked for a school district for 25 years , no social security taxes deducted, she contributed to a TRS pension plan. However, before and during this period , she worked a 2nd job and paid social security taxes. All told, she’s paid social security taxes for 44 years. Her pension will be reduced by WEP because she met the significant earnings criteria only 8 times. She is 62 but won’t start collecting social security benefits until September. She plans to continue working at her teaching job indefinitely. She was told that she’d collect her full monthly benefit until she retired and activated her TRS pension. But she’s slso entitled to a spousal benefit of $270 per month which will be reduced because she won’t be at full retirement age. We expected the reduction to be about 1/3 leaving her with $180 per month. Social security personnel have calculated that due to GPO, she will receive only $93 per month. Our question is why is GPO being applied before she activates her pension? If monthly benefits won’t be reduced until her pension is activated, then why is GPO being applied? Any feedback will be much appreciated!

    1. jblankenship says:

      Sorry for the delayed response. Somehow your comment was marked as spam, and I just found it.

      At any rate, I don’t know why SSA would apply GPO before she’s receiving the pension. Perhaps they just gave you that figure to use as an estimate for when she *does* start receiving it?

  12. Tony says:

    I worked for a school district for 24 years as an accountant I paid social security taxes the whole time and I get a pension social security says I’m subject to weep is this right I paid social security taxes and my employer matched what I paid so why am I subject to wep

    1. jblankenship says:

      If all of your employment was covered by Social Security, you should not be subject to WEP. You need to ask SSA why this is being applied.

      1. Tony says:

        It was like talking to a wall all they saw was worked for school district so we have to be subject to wep I don’t understand can’t they look at your computer record and see I paid taxes they sent the paperwork that showed how much I paid in and how much my employer paid in do they make mistakes all the time it’s like talking to the DMV

        1. Tony says:

          Could my problem with social security have anything to do with substantial earnings clause I only had them for 24 years according to social security

          1. jblankenship says:

            Not if all of your earnings were always subject to Social Security taxation. That should be clear from your earnings record.

  13. Mark says:

    Hello – my wife worked as a teacher for about 18 years and took a lump sum distribution of about 35K which was rolled over into an IRA. It is now worth about 40K. The distribution was about 25 years ago. She is about to apply for SS. Any ideas on how the WEP would affect this situation and her SS payment?

    1. jblankenship says:

      The SSA will likely calculate the lump sum as a series of payments over her lifetime, and reduce her Social Security benefit based on the calculated series. This is just my opinion, SSA will have to make the call on how to handle it.

  14. John Jackson says:

    I contributed to a Korean pension fund for private universities for 10 years. On retirement I received a lump sum payout of about 70K US. SS has applied the WEP to my benefits. I applied for SS at age 70. Does the WEP apply in my case? Thanks.

    1. jblankenship says:

      WEP will apply unless you have 30 years of substantial earnings that were covered by Social Security. You can see more about substantial earnings by going to this article: Substantial Earnings with Regard to WEP

  15. Paul says:

    Thank you for the article. I worked 20 years in a Texas District that paid social security, but I worked three years in a Texas District that did not pay social security. I have a TRS Pension and enough credits for SSec. Am I subject to the Windfall even if I have been working in the district that pays S Sec for the last 20 years?

    1. jblankenship says:

      If any part of your pension is due to work that was not covered by Social Security, WEP will impact you. It will be in your best interest to have a complete understanding of how much of the pension is related to the 3 years that you did not pay Social Security taxes. For example, does that mean that your pension is 3/23 non-SS-covered? If so, then that is the maximum pension amount that should be used to determine the WEP reduction. The maximum WEP reduction cannot be more than 50% of the WEP-applicable pension amount. Ask your pension administrators to find out for sure.

      The other way to resolve this is to have 30 years in total of substantial earnings that are covered by Social Security. This will eliminate WEP impact for you altogether.

  16. Hope Winter says:

    I worked at a financial institution for 18 years in which I paid into social security, however I am now a teacher in the state of Texas that does not pay into social security. If I work part-time for12 years for a company that pays into social security, will this eliminate WEP since this would be a total of 30 yrs.?

    1. jblankenship says:

      As long as the part-time work results in a “substantial” earnings for you each year, then your plan should result in elimination of WEP. Each year must meet that year’s “substantial” earnings test to be counted as one of your 30.

  17. Elizabeth A says:

    I believe from the article WEP won’t impact me, I receive half a pension from my ex. It does go through OPM and is in my name, not paid like alimony straight from him. I have a small amount of Social Security to collect when I want to file. I was less clear about GPO from the article, but it looks like this is not a concern either. Am I understanding this correctly, if so, you just made my day!

    1. jblankenship says:

      Unless the pension is based upon your own earnings, WEP nor GPO should not come into play for you.

  18. Rick B says:

    My wife is affected by WEP, but I am not. Her spousal benefit from me is higher than her own benefit. Will WEP be applied to the spousal benefit or will she get the full 50% spousal benefit at FRA?

    1. jblankenship says:

      No – WEP will not apply to spousal benefits, but GPO will. GPO is more aggressive and can wipe out a spousal benefit altogether.

  19. I have dual citizenship (France and US). I have worked in France for 6 years while I have 31 years of covered Social Security Earnings in the US. Looking at the table of WEP yearly Substantial Earnings from 1978 thru 2015 against my US covered Social Security Earnings for the same time period, only 26 years out of the 31 years of covered SS Earnings show an equal or higher amount than the ones listed for each year in the WEP Substantial Earnings table. However the total amount of all covered SS Security Earnings from 1978 thru 2015 is much higher than the total amount of WEP required Substantial Earnings for the same time period because some covered SS Earnings were considerably higher than their corresponding Wep amount. I will be 62 years old in Feb 2016 and plan to ask for early retirement in both countries. Will the WEP process consider 26 years only of covered SS Earnings in my case?

    1. jblankenship says:

      Unfortunately, each year is considered separately. So only 26 of your years of earnings will be considered as substantial with regard to WEP treatment.

      1. Thanks a lot. Is there any chance the Wep provision will disappear in the near future?

        1. jblankenship says:

          I don’t expect it. Just my humble opinion.

  20. Elmo says:

    I didn’t have enough social security credits when I enrolled into CSRS. Does WEP apply if I intend to work after CSRS voluntary retirement (age 57) in which I will contribute to social security until I am 65?

    1. jblankenship says:

      If you are not collecting SS benefits, WEP doesn’t apply until you start the benefits. Your work record will continue to apply toward your SS benefits, even if you work past the point where you’re receiving a pension that would trigger WEP.

  21. AndyT says:

    I’m a US citizen but worked in the UK for a number of years and accumulated a small pension there. It looks like I am impacted by the WEP and will have my SS benefit reduced by about 50% of the UK pension. My wife will be claiming SS as well based on my benefit so there will be a further 25% WEP adjustment. So it looks like WEP will absorb 75% of my UK pension, When I factor in income tax, it looks like my UK pension is actually a liability and I will owe the US government more than the value of this pension.

    Am I right in thinking I am better off losing this pension somewhere? If so how can I do it?

    I’d read somewhere that if I take a bulk payment before my UK retirement date (in 3 months) I just pay US income tax on the amount and WEP is history. Is this true?

    I assume that the UK tax free provision for bulk withdrawal of 25% of the pension pot doesn’t apply when filing US tax returns.

    1. jblankenship says:

      If you take a lump-sum distribution of the pension before you are eligible, you may eliminate the WEP impact.

      “Before you are eligible” is key here: eligible means that you have met every test to receive this pension except for applying for it. So in other words, if you would be able to apply for the pension now (instead of 3 months from now) then you’re eligible for the pension. Taking a lump-sum at this point would not eliminate WEP impact.

      On the other hand, if in 3 months you will have crossed a specific milestone (such as a birthday) that makes you eligible for the pension and you were not eligible for it before that date, then taking a lump sum could eliminate WEP for you.

  22. WW says:

    Jim – thanks a lot again – I hope Congress will do something about this and hopefully soon – some senators had already some propositions – but……you know that body.

  23. Jim – really thanks a lot,- of course, you are helpful but not these paragraphs that apply in general to our USA diversity of plans. My pension is from Poland and looks to me that SSA can be pretty frivolous in its interpretations here. If you want me to describe it briefly,just for your professional couriosity, of course I can do this and of course will be happy to know your oppinion. What you can tell me now is, what is the next proper step in case of my disagreement with SSA justification – is this just a court….. and which one ?, or some legal body, commission or whatever…….. in between ?.
    Thanks a lot again.

    1. jblankenship says:

      I would suggest that you check with SSA about what your next steps can be.

  24. Dear Jim Blankenship
    In your explanations for “How to reduce or eliminate Windfall Elimination Provision Impact to Your Social Security Benefit” , I see such sentences : It is important to note that WEP impact only occurs if the pension is consdered to be the primary retirement plan………If the plan is considered to be a supplemental plan (for example, as a 403(b) plan moght be to a regular pension plan), then if the source of funds is solely from the employee, this plan will not produce a WEP impact. ”
    This is exactly my case and therefore my question to you is about any formal written law that supports your explanation. Is there some paragrph or statue in the law, that I can take to the court and defend my benefits, – or just your oppinion – or maybe some court precedence that you know of. Would you be so polite to respond with explanation.
    Thanks in advance.

    1. jblankenship says:

      See the following POMS reference: RS 00605.364 Determining Pension Applicability, Eligibility Date, and Monthly Amount. Pay particular attention to 1.b, 3.a, 3.b, and 3.c.


  25. says:

    My husband is a retired Federal employee under the CSRS system & currently receiving (his) social security & hit with the WEP, I also am a Federal employee under the FERS system, when I turn 62 if I apply & suspend if he draws on my social security will the WEP still affect him (under mine)?

    1. jblankenship says:

      You cannot suspend benefits until you are at Full Retirement Age.

      WEP would not impact a spousal benefit for your husband based on your earnings, but the Government Pension Offset would. When you see the impact of GPO you’ll long for the days when you only had WEP impact – GPO is much worse, reducing benefits by 2/3 of the amount of the pension.


  26. Misa says:

    Hi, I worked in Tx for a little more than a year and withdrew retirement. I was about 34. The TRS (retirement system) said I got a lump sum, 1100 or so, but I would not have been eligible to retire, and I only withdrew my portion and the interest, not the employer’s portion. Would I have a WEP?

    1. jblankenship says:

      Probably not. Since you withdrew the money before you were eligible for the pension, it *shouldn’t* cause WEP impact.

      Be sure to clear this with SSA though, as they may have a different interpretation of the rules.


  27. I was born, bred, and raised in the United Kingdom of English parentage in December 1946. I lived and worked there, paying into the British system, right up until 1990.
    I hadn’t even considered migrating to any other country on the planet up until then, however after a couple of trips to the United States as a tourist I decided to apply for a ‘Green Card’ which I was approved for in 1992, followed by U.S. Citizenship a couple of years later.
    Before taking this step, I had been told by the U.K. Pensions Dept. that any pension I had qualified for based on payments while still a British Subject, would NOT be affected by the U.S. Social Security Pension payments that I would receive upon my retirement here!
    When I finally did retire in Sept. 2012 after 20 years of working in the U.S. the SSA first told me that I would be paid the FULL amount to which I was entitled to !
    Two weeks later I received a letter from them stating that my payment was being reduced due to W.E.P. because I hadn’t paid anything into the U.S. Social Security system while working in the United Kingdom.
    Despite proving that I wasn’t even associated with this country at the time, and continuously asking why I would be expected to pay into the U.S. SS system, I was of the opinion that the SS staff were totally ignorant as to whom the WEP should apply to!
    After my case was denied three times by SS supervisors, I then saw a Federal Judge ( who stated that 99.9% of the cases he reviewed were disability cases and that he would have to make his decision after advisement) and ruled against me which begs the question “Who advised him?”
    Now I am waiting to see an Appeals Council” (which is not an independent body but part of SS)
    I have sent them Official Documents from the U.K. Pensions Dept. that clearly states that my U.K. Pension has nothing to do with the U.S. SS Pension system nor any International Agreements made between the two countries !
    Anyone have any ideas as to how to get through to these fools?
    Michael T.

    1. jblankenship says:

      I don’t know how to resolve your situation – and a big part of the problem relates to what the judge told you, which is that the vast majority of cases are disability-related. As such, finding competent counsel for a retirement-related problem is very difficult. Unfortunately I do not know of any attorneys who specialize in this area that could help you.

      Best wishes to you – hope it all works out for you.


    2. Hi Michael, We have just encountered the same problem. My husband has just put in a claim for US benefits and was told because he was claiming UK pension (State Old Age Pension) he would have to take reduced US benefits. It makes no sense at all. Even though he has full 40 credits paid into US system but has been here for 25 years he is being penalised. We were under the impression there was a reciprocal agreement between US and UK regarding all these types of things. Were you able to get anything figured out as I see your post was from a year ago.
      Best Wishes

    3. Nick Rothery says:

      Hi Michael,

      Am also a British Citizen and am in a roughly similar boat to you – except that I never took US citizenship and I renounced/returned my ‘green card’ when I retired back to the UK in 2012 after 14 years of working in the USA.

      Am currently receiving both my UK ‘old age’ state pension and my private UK company pension (from my UK work), prior to shipping out to the US. Am now thinking about filing for my USSS early next year when I reach age 66.

      Just wondering how things panned out for you, given that your post was just over a year ago now. Did you end up getting WEP’d or not? and if not – any tips for how to avoid this abominable USSS WEP reduction law.



  28. Mel says:

    I am 64 and a US citizen and have 24 years of SS “substantial payments”.
    I have just used the “Windfall elimination and Foreign payments” tool and find that answering “Yes” to the Question: Are you entitled to a foreign pension based on employment and were you eligible before January 1, 1986? The next page tells me that the WEP does not apply. (I was vested in the UK pension after working for 13 years. I paid UK social security taxes, not US Social security during this time, and finished my UK work in 1985.) I started drawing on this pension at age 60).
    Other than showing this reference to SS officers when applying for my social security, what other references are there to support my not having to pay WEP?

    1. jblankenship says:

      I would get proof that you were eligible for the pension prior to 1986 so that there is no question about it. Otherwise, sounds like you will be in good shape and not impacted by WEP.


    2. John W SCHWIKERT says:

      Mel, Did you have any luck eliminating WEP from your U.S. Social Security benefits based on your answers on the Windfall elimination and Foreign payments TOOL where it confirmed WEP doesn’t apply to you?

  29. jim jones says:

    If i was vested in my government pension years before the windfall law was passed does this mean my social security can not be reduced by WEP.

    1. jblankenship says:

      Possibly – I would check with SSA to be sure though.

  30. Bob V says:

    I worked for a county government for 20 years and was fired. I went to court and won a workers comp case and a service caused disability retirement income which is payed in monthly installments. This income is tax free, I was 45 year old at the time and have not been able to work sense. Now at 65 years old I applied for social security benefits and should be receiving over $300 from them. I receive $136 from them because of the WEP. My income by IRS rules is not reportable. Sense I have no reportable income how can they use the WEP?

    1. jblankenship says:

      Bob V – That’s a good question to ask the SSA. My guess is that some portion of your payment you’re receiving must be considered “retirement” benefits, therefore causing the WEP reduction. That’s only a guess – SSA should explain the reasoning to you.


  31. jan lim says:

    What a invaluable service you provide!!!!!! Can’t thank you enough—
    “Substantial” earnings are often mention and critical but wondering
    where one could find a table that reflects and precisely defines the actual “substantial earnings” for each of the last 35 years.
    Many thanks!!

    1. jblankenship says:

      Hi Jan –

      You need to look no farther than here in this blog. The article Substantial Earnings with Regard to WEP has this table, updated annually.


  32. Pat says:

    Golly I am desperate to find information, I can currently retire from my state job with a pension and I qualify for SS as either, widows benefit, caring for deceased disabled child or probably SSDI on my own as I have melanoma with metastatis. I just don’t know which is the best way to go. I have approximately 28 yrs of substantial earning for SS as I have worked 2 jobs for twenty eight years, I’m now tired,

    1. Pat says:

      I forgot to say I am 60

    2. jblankenship says:


      This is going to depend on how much each benefit is, and how they can be coordinated together. In addition, you’ll need to decide what you’re trying to do, either maximize benefits now, or maximize future benefits payable on your record. It would be helpful to work through these numbers with a financial advisor.


  33. Sandy E. says:

    My husband just changed careers, going ftom 37 years in broadcasting to a job in development (fundraising) for a local university. He paid into SS for close to 40 years. Now he’s paying into both SS and the Texas Teacher Retirement System. I’ve been working as a paraprofessional in the local school district for 19 years, paying into TRS, but nothing to SS. No one can explain to us why he pays into both. Am I correct in thinking that if he works for the university at least 5 years (btw, he’s 59 now), at retirement he would get all of his SS and TRS pension?

    1. jblankenship says:

      Sandy –

      Even though your husband is paying into the TRS, by virtue of the fact that he’s also paying SS tax, WEP will not impact his SS benefit. In addition, having worked in SS-covered jobs (presumed substantial earnings) for 40 years would also remove WEP impact.


      1. Rene says:

        I’m in a similar situation. I have worked in the private sector for 15 years and paid SS tax. I switched careers and currently work for a school district and I pay both TRS and SS tax. However, I also work part time as an adjunct instructor for a community college that also pays into the same TRS pension, but I am not eligible for a pension from the community college since it is part time. The amount of my TRS pension annuity from the school district is calculated using all earnings from all TRS employment, so employment at the community college will boost my final salary and increase the amount of my TRS pension annuity that I will get from the school district. Will I be subject to WEP in this scenario? Also, my wife also works for a school district but doesn’t pay any SS tax, any impact to SS benefits to me or her? Thanks for all your help and information.

        1. jblankenship says:

          Rene –

          If the earnings from the job in question are *not* subject to Social Security taxation, then WEP will apply. It sounds as if your earnings are all subject to SS tax, but your wife’s are not. This would cause her SS benefits to be subject to WEP, and any spousal benefit that she might receive based on your earnings would be subject to GPO reduction as well.

          Hope this helps –


    2. Deanna Teel says:

      No one can seem to answer my question: I have worked in higher education since 1987 and do not have a pension. We were offered either Tx. Retirement System (TRS) OR Optional Retirement Plan (ORP), so I chose ORP. This is where we save and invest our own monies. I have saved money but do not get a lump sum payment or annuity when I retire. I have also worked 21 years earning “substantial earnings”, year-to-date. I am 63 yrs. and was planning on working until 65. Does the WEP pertain to my situation since I’m not getting a pension?

      1. jblankenship says:

        Deanna –
        If you are paying Social Security tax on your wages, then WEP would not apply. If you are not, then the ORP would still be considered a “pension” by Social Security rules, and the Social Security benefit that you receive would be reduced by WEP. For more detail on the ORP and Social Security, see this article by Devin Carroll which specifically goes over how it all works.

        Hope this helps –


  34. Sean Connery says:

    If I worked for 14 years (1988-2001) and ever since then I have worked as a teacher in Texas. I have read that if I have a “low” government pension (that would happen to me in the event of early retirement), then WEP would not apply to me. How do you define “low” pension? How can I find out if I’d be affected? If it turns out that no WEP reduction applies, that would incentivize me to retire early.

    1. jblankenship says:

      Hello Sean –

      If your government pension is low – that is, lower than the first bend point of the Primary Insurance Amount (PIA) calculation, which is $826 for 2015 – then your WEP impact will be limited to 50% of the amount of your pension. If there is another definition of a “low” pension I’m not aware of it.


  35. Les B says:

    I have a state worker pension (uncoordinated with Social Security) and expect to receive a substantial reduction to my Social Security payment when I begin drawing it, due to the windfall elimination provision. My wife also has a state worker pension but hers was coordinated with Social Security.

    Will my pension trigger a windfall elimination provision reduction in her Social Security benefits? If so, would this still be the case if we file taxes separately?

    1. jblankenship says:

      Hello Les –

      Your pension will not impact your wife’s SS benefits, although if she is anticipating a spousal benefit based on your record the spousal benefit would have a reduction because your Primary Insurance Amount (PIA) is reduced by WEP.

      Income tax filing status has no effect on whether or not WEP or GPO will impact your benefits.


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