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Can I Collect Social Security When I Didn't Pay FICA Taxes? Skip to content

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Can I collect Social Security and a pension from a job where I did not pay FICA taxes?    

En español | Yes, although you might receive a reduced Social Security benefit, thanks to the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP).

WEP applies to people who collect a “non-covered” pension — one from a job, typically in government, where they did not pay Social Security payroll taxes — but who also did enough “covered” work in other jobs to qualify for Social Security benefits. It was passed by Congress in 1983 to eliminate a loophole that allowed many government employees to get the same break from Social Security’s progressive benefit formula as do longtime low-wage workers, whom the formula was crafted to help.

Who falls under the WEP rules? About 3 percent of Social Security beneficiaries, who primarily worked for federal, state and local government agencies. If you are among them, Social Security calculates your full retirement benefit by a less-forgiving formula than it uses for everybody else, resulting in lower payments.

The law does guarantee that the Social Security benefits of public sector employees cannot be cut by more than half of their pension amount. Social Security offers a fact sheet with more details on the law and a chart to help you determine how the WEP might affect your benefits.

Keep in mind

  • A similar Social Security rule, the Government Pension Offset (GPO), can reduce spousal and survivor benefits for people who collect non-covered government pensions.

Published October 10, 2018

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