Teachers have widespread confusion about collecting retirement and social security benefits. In fact, “Can I get teacher retirement and Social Security?” is one of the most frequently asked questions when a professional complete their statutory years of employment.
Teachers receive conflicting information on this topic, but the specific answer will depend on the state where you are located. In some of them, you are entitled to receive both payments, while in others, it would be denied. There are two alternatives where it would be possible to obtain both amounts:
- Being qualified for Social Security benefits.
- Collecting Social Security benefits based on your spouse’s work record.
Even in one of these scenarios, the teacher must meet some conditions. Let’s take a closer look at the issue.
Can I collect retirement and Social Security benefits?
Depending on your state, you may enjoy an alternate state pension program, while other territories will only have coverage under plans associated with Social Security. Those residing in states with alternate methods are eligible for dual payments, while those with alternate plans are not.
Teachers who may be most confused about the issue are:
- Those who work in states with separate pension plans
- Those who have worked in other professions outside of teaching and paid into Social Security under this plan
If you fall into one of these two groups, you are eligible for benefits, but you must first qualify. This qualification is based on the receipt of earnings credits. For every $1,300 you earn, you receive one earnings credit, and you can get up to four a year.
Social Security requires 40 earnings credits to qualify, which takes ten years of work to be eligible. Completion of 40 full credits is required; there are no partial benefits. For Social Security, it’s all or nothing.
These are the benefits if you are eligible
Let’s set an example with teachers in Illinois, a state where the pension plan is independent. Mary retires and receives her Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) pension, but she also worked as an entrepreneur before becoming a teacher and collected the 40 credits requested by Social Security. Mary is eligible for both payments; will she receive them?
Although it looks like she is, Mary will receive only a portion of the full amount Social Security says she is. The answer lies in the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP), which does not allow a person to collect two full payments from the government. The amount Mary can receive will depend on a calculation set by Social Security; you can also find out the amount with this calculator by clicking on this link https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/retirement/planner/anyPiaWepjs04.html.
Mary can collect the amount of her pension, but the amount of her Social Security payment decreases. Although the Windfall Elimination Provision cannot eliminate the entire cost, it can reduce it to a near minimum.
Can I collect my pension and Social Security benefits from my spouse or survivor?
This is another question frequently asked by teachers who do not have access to dual pay. But, like the previous answer, it will depend on your pension and the amount of your Social Security benefits.
The Government Pension Offset (GPO) is another tool that applies to people who want to collect their spouse’s or client’s benefits and receive a government pension. Like the WEP, the GPO has the same goal of preventing most citizens from enjoying double payments from the government.
The main difference between the WEP and the GPO is that the GPO is based on the work history of a third person. This means that the thresholds for denying Social Security benefits are low. The rule defines that survivor benefits are reduced by two-thirds of the current amount of your pension.
It would help if you used the calculator within this link to establish the correct amount: https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/retirement/planner/gpo-calc.html. Enter the amount of your pension and the total spousal benefits you are entitled to, and the calculator will indicate how much you can receive. This is a two-thirds reduction, but when your pension exceeds the amount of your Social Security entitlement, benefits will begin to drop rapidly.
Spouse or survivor benefits
When a spouse dies, the survivor is entitled to collect 100% of the deceased’s Social Security benefits. When this spouse is alive, this person is entitled to receive 50%; therefore, it is rare when a teacher gets any benefits while the spouse is alive.
Suppose a teacher wants to collect the deceased’s Social Security benefits. She receives $3,500 per month for her pension, and her husband’s Social Security is $1,700; this person is not eligible to receive further payments. Her retirement is very large, and she could only collect it if her price is $2,500 per month. The Social Security survivor’s benefit would be less than $100.