• Christopher Le

Can I receive Social Security Benefits if I paid into Teacher Retirement System (TRS)?

Can I receive Social Security benefits if I only paid into TRS and not Social Security?


Short Answer: Probably not, but it depends. There are two critical laws that Texas teachers should know about that will impact whether you can receive Social Security benefits.


(1) The Windfall Elimination Provision or WEP and (2) the Government Pension Offset or GPO. Both of these laws can reduce or eliminate a Social Security benefit. This will depend upon whether you as a teacher qualified for the Teachers Retirement System (TRS) and did not pay into Social Security.


Whether you are able to receive Social Security and TRS can be confusing for teachers since many have held previous jobs where they have paid into Social Security. For example, maybe you worked in a career where you paid into Social Security for several years and you decided to have a career change and go into teaching, but you still expect some benefit from your previous employment.


Its hard to tell which of these 2 reductions will apply to you. You just have to file for your social security benefits to really know what will happen to your social security benefit when you retire as a teacher. But its always good to have an idea of what to expect.


Windfall Elimination Provision

The WEP recalculates your Social Security benefit if you have a previous position where you paid into Social Security. The maximum monthly WEP for 2022 is $512 for 20 or fewer years of employment in a covered job. The WEP completely phases out if you worked 30 or more years in a previous job where you paid into Social Security. One way to eliminate the WEP is to work part time or take on another job after you are done teaching to get the 30 years of required work.


Government Pension Offset

The GPO is if you are entitled to Social Security benefits based as a survivor or spouse and have a TRS pension where you did not pay into Social Security, your survivor or spousal benefit will be reduced by 2/3rds of your pension.

So for example, if you get a monthly TRS pension of $600, 2/3's of that, or $400, must be deducted from your Social Security benefits. So lets say you are eligible for a $500 spouses, widows, or widowers benefit from Social Security, you’ll get $100 a month from Social Security ($500 – $400 = $100). If two-thirds of your government pension is more than your Social Security benefit, your benefit could be $0.

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