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Social Security Substantial Earnings Table

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
2012 $20,475
2013 $21,075
2014 $21,750
2015 $22,050
2016 $22,050
2017 $23,625
2018 $23,850
2019 $24,720


  1. Stephanie says:

    I am on social security disability i stop working as a LPN 1999 because I am legally blind Will my benefits be affected if i sighn up and get paid to be my Mom’s Direct caregiver in my home?

    1. jblankenship says:

      I’m sorry but I am not well-versed in the disability arena. Your best bet is to contact SSA for guidance.

  2. Pam Novitzky says:

    I am wondering when SS will announce the dollar amount for Substantial Earnings in 2020? My plan is to work long enough into 2020 to earn that amount and then I will have met my 30th year, and retire without any WEP impact. Do you know the date they will announce the amount needed in 2020?

    1. jblankenship says:

      The official publish date for these figures is typically in mid-November. Generally though, we may have the number by late October, as the cost of living adjustment information is due on or around the 15th of October. Stay tuned!

  3. margaretmccoy says:

    I am still working and age 73.5. Only have 5 years of substantial earnings in SS as I am an eductor and have taught for 48 years with no contributions to SS. My social security payment is $563 per month now (waited to receive until 70). I will retire with of 403b value of $3million. How much of an offset will I have on myy $563 SS payment? Also, I was hired before 1985 and it appears a statement in the WEP guidelines say they apply if you were hired after 1985. Am I therefore not subject to WEP if I was hired in 1970 and have been at the same institution for 48 years?

    1. jblankenship says:

      The maximum WEP impact is limited to 50% of your Social Security benefit (or 50% of your pension if that amount is less), when your unreduced benefit is less than the first bend point. In your case this means that the maximum WEP reduction would be approximately $282.

      The 1985 reference is in regard to eligibility for a Social Security benefit. You would not have become eligible for a Social Security retirement benefit until you reached age 62, which was long after 1985. There’s another 1985 reference which applies specifically to federal government pension recipients, but that wouldn’t apply to your case.

  4. Auntie says:

    I am 62 and planning to retire on my 63rd birthday in January 2020. I have 21 years of substantial SS earnings from 1979 to 2000. I will also have 19. 4 years as an educator. I will take my educator pension when I retire, but am hoping to delay taking my SS pension until I am 66 1/2. If I get a part time job and earn $24700/year (or whatever the substantial earnings will be in the next few years) will it help reduce the WEP impact?

    1. jblankenship says:

      Yes – each year that you earn more than the “substantial” amount will add another year to your credit years. If you earn 4 more credits between now and when you file, this will reduce the WEP impact by 50%. And you can continue to earn credits after you’ve filed, each year dropping the impact by 5%, until you have a total of 30 credits which eliminates WEP altogether.

  5. Ken says:

    Not sure the 45 hour/Substantial income rule is being applied to my situation correctly? I’ve been living in China for the last 5 years. I work as an on-line english teacher for a Chinese school. My SS agent in Manila says I can’t work over 45 hours per month or I’ll lose all my benefits for any month I do. But my earnings will be just under $11,500 for the year if limited to 45 hours…but does the monthly exempt amount as mentioned in the link below apply to me? If so, what is the amount?
    Thank you for your input! :)

    1. jblankenship says:

      First of all, the Substantial Earnings table (in the article here) is different from Substantial Services in Self Employment that you’re referring to. The Substantial Earnings table relates to the Windfall Elimnation Provision (WEP), which doesn’t seem to apply in your case.

      The rules around Substantial Services in Self Employment are explicit: regardless of your earnings level, if you work 45 hours or more in a month then you forfeit the Social Security retirement benefit which you are receiving. This applies when you are under FRA (Full Retirement Age).

      One possible exception to this rule is if your earnings can be readily determined, your earnings are solely dependent on your personal services, and there is no significant investment in the “business”. This could possibly apply in your case – you should talk this over with Social Security representatives to determine if it can apply to you.

  6. I was drafted into the Army in 1971, before volunteer Army pay was implemented (they started us at $67/month). Are those years in any way adjusted? (hey I got off the plane over there and worked 66 straight days, but I may not have been in “substantial employment?” Gosh darn).

    1. jblankenship says:

      I’m sorry but I don’t know the answer to that. I have not seen anything about adjusting pay for servicemembers – but that doesn’t mean there’s not a provision for it. I’d check with SSA to find out for sure, if I were you.

  7. Living overseas says:

    So, I have 21 years of substantial earnings and have lived overseas for 7. I still have a decade before retirement. I have a few questions.
    1) How is the WEP clawback established. I only anticipate 250 per month from foreign retirement. If I end up with another few years of substantial earnings and get to the 75% level, how is this calculated. Assume full SS payment would be 2,000 per month. Will I lose 500 per month to collect the 250 (i.e., get paid 1500 since that is 75% of 2000)? That doesn’t seem fair.
    2) Does self employment earnings claimed in the US and paying the Self Employed Taxes (which is basically SS & Medicare) count towards my substantial earnings? Or does it have to be W2 income?
    3) I was in college in the late 1990s and received enough money to hit the substantial earnings (paid by the college). However, there is a little known tax code provision for that work to be non taxable so I didn’t pay taxes on it. Will those years count as substantial earnings years or not? I did file taxes those years (to get grant/scholarship $).

    1. jblankenship says:

      1) WEP reduction is capped at the lesser of a) 50% of pension that triggers the WEP; or b) 50% of the Social Security benefit; or c) 50% of the first bend point applicable to you. In your case, a) seems to apply and the WEP reduction would be $125 at the most.
      2) Yes, self employment earnings are included within your substantial earnings.
      3) If the earnings were not subject to Social Security taxation (if your W4 was marked “EXEMPT” as you were a student/employee), then those earnings are not counted toward substantial earnings.

      Check your record at – this will show your earnings over the years, which you can compare to the substantial earnings table to determine if each particular year is “substantial”.

  8. Eric Sink says:

    If all my previous 35 years of income has been subject to FICA do I still have to have 30 years of substantial income to avoid a deduction?

    1. jblankenship says:

      No – if all of your income has had Social Security tax applied, there should be no WEP reduction for you.

  9. L G Hansson says:

    How can I be certain that my SS payments are correct? Collect pension from abroad (varying amount each month depending on exchange rates) and have 40 Q of work in the US, mostly with less than substantial earnings. Info to figure out how WEP would affect my soc sec was collected quite haphazardly over the phone by SSA . I would like to see a break down to make sure the amount I receive is correct. Can I ask SSA for one or can I check myself?

    1. jblankenship says:

      Yes! Ask them for the calculation that’s being done to determine your WEP impact. You might need to visit a local office to do this more efficiently, but if it’s being done wrong it’s worth the effort.

  10. ms_myra says:

    What is the minimum number of years to collect this? I have 9 years of substantial earnings.

    1. jblankenship says:

      If you’re subject to WEP, that is, if you have a pension from a non-SS-taxed job, substantial earnings years are important. If you have 21 or more substantial earnings years (covered by SS taxation), then the WEP impact can be reduced. If you have 30 substantial earnings years, the WEP impact can be eliminated altogether. If you have 9 years of substantial earnings, you must accumulate another 12 years for it to begin to make a difference in your WEP reductions.

      1. ms_myra says:

        I am subject to WEP. I have the 40 credits needed to collect SSRB but I only have 9yrs of substantial earnings. Somewhere I read you have to have a minimum of 10 years. Is this correct? In other words, if I don’t have at least 10 years of substantial earnings then I will get $0?

  11. Guy r galbraith says:

    Why on my earnings record does it show a zero amount for the year 1985? Ive been working since 1974 to now and that is the only year it shows no record of taxed social security earnings

    1. jblankenship says:

      You’ll need to get information about your employment in 1985 – a tax return, or other documentation – to determine if the SSA records are correct. Is it possible that you worked for a non-Social Security-covered job at that time? Such as a government unit, or a school district?

  12. Wes says:

    I am 62 years old,retired and not drawing SS. I have 18 years of substantial SS taxed earnings but the rest was earnings from a police dept that did not pay into SS. I am currently drawing a pension and will be subject to WEP because of my police pension. My question is: if I take a part time job that pays into social security but I earn less than the current Substantial Earnings amount, currently 24,700 , will social security give any credit toward a reduction of WEP by adding two years of income or more to exceed the 24,700 definition of substantial income?

    1. jblankenship says:

      Unfortunately no, there is no partial credit for substantial earnings less than the yearly amount. Either you meet the amount and you get a credit year, or there is no credit.

  13. Sherri0629 says:

    If i retire at the age of 60 and have 29 substantial years at that time, will my annual pension amount continue to count towards substantial years so that i will have 30 years before i can draw social security at 62? Or will i remain at 29 substantial years from the point I retire at 60?

    1. jblankenship says:

      Your pension does not count as “substantial earnings”. Only wages and self-employment are counted as substantial earnings to add to your 29 years of credit you’ve already earned. So, unless you add another years’ worth of wages or self-employment to your substantial earnings years of credit, you will remain at 29 when you start receiving Social Security retirement benefits.

  14. Amanda says:

    How is substantial earnings calculated as in what line #2 or #4 on the 2018 Schedule SE Self Employment tax form is used? Thanks!

  15. Amanda says:

    Which line on 2018 Schedule SE Self Employment tax 1040 does SS use to factor in for substantial earnings? Is it line 2 or 4? My goal is to achieve another substantial earnings year as I’m in the 20-30 year range of s.e. years. Thank you.

    1. jblankenship says:

      It is your net earnings from self-employment, so Line 2. Line 4 is the result of removing the employER side of the taxation in order to determine the appropriate employEE-side tax obligation.

      1. Amanda says:

        Thank you, thank you! And ignore my other post. I had yet to refresh the website. Again thanks!

  16. Anne says:

    1. How do I calculate the impact of my social security earnings in the next few years on my benefit payment when I retire at full retirement age? Is there a formula based on cumulative taxed social security earnings and a chart to consult somewhere?

    2. How does income earned in self-employment relate to ss income and substantial earnings years (context: I’m a psychologist who previously worked in the private sector– 16 years substantial ss earnings, now working in the public sector with a pension and plans to retire with pension this year at age 63, and consideration of working in private practice for 5 – 10 years more) ?

    THANKS in advance for this and for your having such an informative and helpful website/webpage!!

    1. jblankenship says:

      Social Security has several calculators on their website that you may find useful. In particular for a situation like you’re describing, the AnyPIA (software that you download and install on your computer) would be the best, I think. This will help you to project the impact of future earnings.

      Self-employment income is counted by the net self-employment income as reported on your tax return. If the amount is “substantial” for that particular year, the year’s income will be counted in the “substantial earnings years of credit”, toward potentially reducing WEP impact.

  17. Donald C says:

    If I have 30 years of substantial earnings and receive a police pension, will I be subject to the WEP? The municipality I worked for paid into a pension and social security. Any information would be helpful. Thank you!

    1. jblankenship says:

      If you have 30 years of substantial earnings covered by Social Security, you should not have any WEP impact at all.

      1. William R Dotson says:

        According to the SSA, the very least WEP will be counted is 10% and that is with 30 or more years of substantial earnings. 30 or more gives you a 90% WEP exclusion.

        1. jblankenship says:

          No, everyone’s first bend point (when no WEP is applied) is multiplied by 90%. The second bend point is multiplied by 32%, and the third is by 15%.

          If WEP is applied (you have less than 30 years of substantial earnings credits), then the 90% factor is reduced, to as low as 40%.

  18. Mary Murphy says:

    I thought I had 30 years but discovered that I only have 29. When I went to the SSA office related to my husbands death (got a whopping $250) they informed me with 29 years I would receive ZERO social security. Is this correct?

    1. jblankenship says:

      Without knowing more about your situation I have no way to know if it’s correct or not. It doesn’t sound correct – if you’ve been working in Social Security-covered employment for 29 years you must have built up some retirement benefit…?

  19. Sheila Green says:

    I will turn 62 in 2021 and will have 20 years of substantial earnings. If I continue to work and choose to not draw social security beniefits at age 62, will my WEP reduction be less since I would have 23 years of substantial earnings instead of 20 years?

    1. jblankenship says:

      Yes, that’s how it works. For each additional year of substantial earnings beyond 20, the amount of your WEP reduction is reduced by 10%, until you have 30 years of substantial earnings. At that point the WEP reduction is eliminated. This happens whether or not you are collecting SS benefits while continuing to earn substantial years.

      1. William R Dotson says:

        Windfall Elimination Provision
        Years of substantial
        30 or more 90 percent
        29 85 percent
        28 80 percent
        27 75 percent
        26 70 percent
        25 65 percent
        24 60 percent
        23 55 percent
        22 50 percent
        21 45 percent
        20 or less 40 percent

        1. jblankenship says:

          These are the correct first bend point multipliers, if you adjust the 90% item to read: 30 or more or you have no WEP-applicable pension = 90%.

  20. Joseph Zazzarino says:

    Having been penalized by WEP for not having 30 years of substantial earnings and collecting a small municipal pension, can I have the penalty lifted if I meet the 30 year rule by continuing to work in my retirement

    1. jblankenship says:

      Yes, if you eventually have a total of 30 years of substantial earnings, your WEP reduction will be eliminated.

  21. Christie says:

    Today is 12/27/18. When will they post the 2019 Substantial Earnings amount? Also, is it true that if you meet your 4 credits and substantial earnings early in the year (say February or March), the credits will not get posted until the first day of the quarter, i.e., April 1; June 1; and October 1?

    1. jblankenship says:

      I’m not sure about when your credits are posted, you’re most likely correct about that timing. Mostly because the reporting is on a quarterly basis.

      The 2019 substantial earnings amount is $24,720, I believe.

  22. Jess says:

    I have a blend of wages, unearned and self employment income. What income sources are included in substantial earnings for WEP? For example, as reported AGI, or income before adjustments? Net business profit before or after SE tax deduction, self employed health care, etc?

    1. jblankenship says:

      The earnings that are subject to Social Security tax are used to determine substantial earnings for the year. Look at your earnings record with SSA (go online to get the record) – if the amount they show for your earnings for the year is above the substantial limit for that year, you’ve met the test.

      1. William Voss says:

        Should I adjust my actual earnings for wage growth to determine “substantial earnings“ for WEP years as is done in the SSA’s initial determination of you initial benefit before the application of WEP?

        1. jblankenship says:

          Not quite sure what you’re asking.

          If you are wondering whether the substantial earnings are based on indexed annual earnings, the answer is no. These figures are the actual dollar amounts that must have been earned in the specific year in order for that year to be a Year of Credit as it applies to WEP.

          1. William Brian Voss says:

            You answered my question. Thank you!!

  23. Wayne says:

    I am a Canadian who became an American last year living in the US since 1990. I am already collecting CPP in Canada at age 60 and have worked in the US since 90. Looks like I have 28 or 29 years of Substantial Earnings according to the chart. If I try to collect SS here in the US in lets say next March of next year , it looks like I’m in WEP, will they only reduce me by 44.80 according to a chart I saw that says if you have 29 years it’s only that much or am I missing something? I understand it’s gonna be reduced anyways since I am not waiting till 66 and 2 months for full amount.

    1. jblankenship says:

      That sounds about right. If you can put in one more substantial year you’ll eliminate WEP altogether!

  24. Freeman Carey says:

    I retired from the school system as an aide worker. I was paid for 8 months out of the year. Most of us had to work another job to survive. Our pay was substantially lower than that of the teachers yet we are still held to the same WEP penalty. I would not complain if our pay was year round but it seems to me we are receiving double penalty.

  25. John Davies says:

    For the 2018 it 23,850

    1. jblankenship says:

      That is correct.

      1. Tom Morton says:

        If a person works minimum wage they never reach the substantial yearly earnings. Can they collect SSI benefits?

        1. jblankenship says:

          Substantial earnings is only important if you have had non-covered work where a pension is due. In that case, if you’ve had between 20 and 30 years of substantial earnings, the WEP impact is lessened.

          If someone has only worked in minimum wage jobs for their entire career, covered by Social Security taxation, they would still have a Social Security benefit available to them. They might also have SSI available, depending upon their circumstances.

  26. CB says:

    I was a teacher from 1978 – 1984. During that time, the ISD participated in a Teacher Retirement System, but not Social Security. When I left teaching, I withdrew my money and participation in the program. I returned to the education field with a university in 2005 and worked for them 11 years. The university employees participated in both TRS and Social Security. During that employment period, I purchased my years of service credits (with money earned while paying both SS and TRS). I have retired and am receiving a TRS pension.

    1) What is the effective date on which they start counting whether or not the pension is based on non-SS earnings? (I have read 1984 and I have read 1985 in 2 places on the SS website.)

    2) If the effective date was during a school year, do they give teachers who were contractually committed to an ISD (on the initial effective date) an opportunity to complete that school year .

    3) Since I withdrew my money and participation in the plan, causing me to be ineligible for any benefits, does that waive the application of WEP (since the money paid to purchase service credits was during employment when both TRS and SS were being paid)?

    (I worked additional jobs, in which I paid SS, but some of the years were not considered substantial earnings, so I do not qualify for the 30 year WEP exemption.)

    Thank you

    1. jblankenship says:

      Answering in order:
      1) WEP applies to persons starting SS benefits after 1985 when that person is also eligible for a pension based on non-SS-covered work. When the non-SS-covered work was performed is not a factor.
      2) Not a factor – but substantial earnings under SS taxation are always on a calendar year.
      3) Yes, since you withdrew your money from the pension plan before you were eligible to receive the benefit, you should be outside of the scope of WEP application. This is my best understanding of the rules, SSA may disagree so you want to proceed with caution.

  27. Susanne says:

    I worked for 23 years contributing to social security, then started working as a teacher and contributing to their pension instead of social security. My question is did I have to meet the substantial earnings for those 23 years? A few of them I only worked part time. Also when I retire from teaching and get a part time job, do I need to make substantial earnings to qualify for more social security? Thank you

    1. jblankenship says:

      Your income will count toward Social Security benefits regardless of whether it was “substantial” according to the table. However, in order to reduce the affect of WEP, any years that you had Social Security-covered earnings that were less than the substantial amount from the table will not be counted.

      If you have more than 20 years of substantial earnings, your WEP reduction can be lessened. If you have a total of 30 years or more of substantial earnings, the WEP reduction is eliminated altogether.

      If you work part time and do not earn more than the substantial amounts, the earnings may have a positive impact on your Social Security benefit, but will not have an affect on the WEP reduction.

  28. Marc says:

    Do you need to work in all 4 quarters to count as a substantial earnings year?. To clarify, if I can retire in March while meeting the minimum in the table, would that count as a good year? And as a follow-up, and I’m not sure about this, but if leave cash outs are subject to social security taxes (which I don’t know if they are or not), and I pushed my retirement to January 1st, did not work but cashed out my leave time and met the minimum, would that be a good substantial earnings year?

    1. jblankenship says:

      First of all, substantial earnings are not based on quarters, so the answer to your first question is no, you don’t have to work in all four quarters to get credit for a substantial earnings year.

      All wage and self-employment earnings are counted toward the substantial earnings – so if a cash-out is included on a W2 as wage income, then it should be counted toward a substantial earnings year.

      1. Marc says:

        Thank you, that’s a help.

        Not a WEP question, but is there a 35 year average that would give you the maximum benefit? I would like to calculate what effect post retirement part-time or non-employment would have on my benefit. Does SSA publish this amount anywhere?

        1. jblankenship says:

          Your benefit is based on your highest 35 years of earnings, with earnings prior to your age 60 indexed for inflation. SSA has several calculators on their site that may help you to understand the impacts to your benefits by working past retirement from full-time work versus not working at all.

  29. Helen says:

    Social Security is claiming my 75-year-old mother owes them $20k for overpayment because of WEP. From 1968 to 1983, my father was the sole income earner (they divorced in 1989). She had substantial earnings from 1984 to 2002, then got a job at a local school district where she worked until she had to retire because of disability in 2015 at the age of 72. She receives a pension for her work at the school district, and did not collect SS until she retired at 72.
    My question is about how the years of substantial earnings are calculated. Surely the years that my mother didn’t work while she was raising her family and my father earned income for both of them should count towards her years of substantial earnings? And is it correct that the years that count for WEP calculation for her own earnings are only the years where she had a job that contributed to SS, and the years at the school district where she didn’t contribute do not count?

    1. jblankenship says:

      Unfortunately, the substantial earnings years are only counted if (in this case) your mother was the earner. So the years when your father was the sole income earner in the family will not help her out.

      1. Helen says:

        Wow, that’s supremely unfair!

        So according to the WEP chart on the SS website, she turned 62 in 2005, and with 20 years or less of substantial earnings, the most they can reduce her payment by is $313.50, correct? Standard $895*90%=$806 is reduced to $895*40%=$358, but thats a reduction of $448. Max of $313.50 should mean $806 is reduced to $492, correct?

        But additional factors such as the age she started collecting SS (over 70=132%) and the COLA in 2017 (0.3%) and 2018 (2%), are factored afterwards, correct?

        Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge in this area.

        1. jblankenship says:

          The first bend point for 2005 was $627 – so the max reduction is 50%, or $313.50 as you found. I’m not sure where the rest of your numbers are coming from but keep in mind that the $313.50 reduction is a reduction to the PIA (the amount she would have received at FRA), and since she didn’t file until after age 70 the total reduction is increased to $413.80 (because her reduced PIA is multiplied by 132% to come up with her benefit amount). Then the COLAs are applied from 2005 onward, to come up with her total benefit amount.

  30. MPT says:

    Do subtantial years hlave to be consecutive? I had a period between 1991 and 2006 where I did not contribute to social security.

    1. jblankenship says:

      No, they can be in any order of occurrence.

  31. GiGi says:

    Just found your site while looking for the list of SSA substantial earning. Thanks. I do have a question- I am 68, and got a job again. I am slated to earn appox 21,000 in 2018. I am 2K short of their crazy chart. (SSA) Should i try to work some OT to try and get to the benchmark of 23K something? And how much would my SSA go up, percentage wise? I have been collecting since 63 yrs of age. And SSA has counted many years of no-go for them before I turned 20!

    1. jblankenship says:

      How many years of substantial earnings do you have? If you’re close to 20 or between 20 and 30, adding a year of substantial earnings will reduce your WEP reduction by 10% (of the reduction amount). If you have way less than 20 then one more year won’t hurt but it won’t help much either. You’ve got to have 20+ years of substantial earnings to make a difference in WEP impact.

    2. GiGi says:

      Thanks for the reply, but not what I needed. First, I am not in the WEP- Windfall Provision Act. I have always pd into SSA. Been working for over 40 yrs. But SSA is not counting some of my 35+ yrs cause they don’t jive with their chart above, so they knocked some yrs out. So now I am left with 32-33 yrs of substantial earnings.
      SO back to original question about this year-Should i try to work some OT to try and get to the benchmark of 23K something? And how much would my SSA go up, percentage wise?
      thank again for any help!

      1. jblankenship says:

        Substantial earnings only applies to WEP, that’s why I answered the way I did.

        Whatever earnings you have this year will be added to your total and calculated into your PIA, regardless if you have $23,000 or not. So to answer that question, no, it’s not necessary to take on overtime to get to the substantial earnings threshold for your earnings to count on your record.

        Regarding how much of a difference it will (or would) make, it depends on the other 32-33 years of earnings on your record.

        1. GiGi says:

          Oh boy-according to several people I have spoken to at SSA, and you know they are always correct, right? LOL. They initially told me back when I was 57, that since I have a tiny pension, they assumed that I never pd into SSA. But I always did. I have IRMF, which I think you are in IL, and know about that. What is PIA, that’s what I call annoying people!
          Again, SSA people, several of them, said that my check is small cause I did not have enough yrs! They also told me when I was 61 that my amount would not keep going down, cause of lack of work then, when I hit 62. They lied on all accounts! So I finally took SSA one month before turning 63. And I have visited 3 offices in 2 states, and spoken w/5-6 people. None say the same thing. The best one was the woman who had 30 yrs on the job, and gave me wrong info!

          1. jblankenship says:

            Not sure how I can help you… If your earnings record has fewer than 35 years being counted, this can cause a lower Primary Insurance Amount (PIA). This figure is the amount of benefit you would receive if you filed for benefits at your Full Retirement Age. It’s an average of your 35 highest indexed earnings years after age 20. If less than 35, then zeros are included for those years that are missing. So any earnings will increase the average by replacing zeros.

          2. GiGi says:

            So back to my original question-should I bother to work more for the rest of the yr to get to the amount on chart? They are only counting about 32 yrs.

          3. jblankenship says:

            The chart in the article above does not apply to you. Disregard it completely, because you are not subject to WEP.

            Whether or not you work more will only matter if you’re increasing the amounts that are used to calculate your benefit. Working more may have a minimal impact on your benefit amount, but not a lot.

  32. if you get hit with WEP….and then your spouse dies…do you then switch over to GPO?

    1. jblankenship says:

      Yes – but if GPO takes away all or most of your survivor benefit, you will still have your own benefit. You don’t have to give that up – it will still be WEP-reduced, but you’ll still have what’s left.

  33. jack Grady says:

    Hi Jim~ How far back can substantial earnings go? For example my wife is 66 but can we go back past 1978 to count substantial?

    1. jblankenship says:

      I believe age 20 is the earliest record that is counted.

  34. Chad Pace says:

    If I have a government job untaxed by social security, but also self employment earnings equivalent to the “substantial earnings” in a given year, will I avoid the WEP for that given year and collect social security for the entire income?

    1. jblankenship says:

      To avoid WEP you must have substantial earnings in 30 or more years, and to limit WEP you must have substantial earnings in 20 or more years. It doesn’t work on a year-by-year basis.

  35. John Mosley says:

    What is the substantial Earnings for 2017?

  36. Lori boros says:

    if I earned double the amount in any given year on the earnings table will that count as 2 qualifying years instead of just 1 ?

    1. jblankenship says:

      Unfortunately, no. Each year is considered separately for substantial earnings.

  37. H.A.Beazel says:

    Is the substantial earnings gross or net income?

    1. jblankenship says:

      Gross income, unless it is self-employment then it is your net self-employment income.

  38. Jacqueline Drucker says:

    What is the amount necessary for substantial earnings for 2015?

    1. jblankenship says:

      I neglected to update the table until now – the figure for 2015 is $22,050, which has now been added to the table.

      1. Joe says:

        is there a formula to calculate the substantial earnings for 2016 etc

        1. jblankenship says:

          Substantial Earnings for 2016 remains unchanged from 2015 at $22,050.


          1. albert says:

            how do you obtain partial credit for years when you fail to make full total required for substantial earnings. is it percentange based ?

          2. jblankenship says:

            There is no partial credit. Either you meet the minimum substantial earnings for a year or you do not.

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