Ask Mary Jane, NCPSSM Contributor: Mary Jane Yarrington, Senior Policy Analyst

“I’ve contributed 40 hours to Social Security but can’t collect my benefit”…Yes, you can.

Here’s a sampling of the different ways the myth surrounding the Windfall Elimination Provision comes to me from questioners:

“My wife heard that she won't be able to collect her own SS at retirement age because she will collect from a school retirement plan. Can that be true?”


“When I went to the Social Security office I was devastated to learn that I would never receive any social security benefits (even though I have a minimum of 40 credits). I never knew such a thing as the Windfall Elimination Provision existed”

In short, if you hear “you can’t collect any of your Social Security” because of the WEP then you have been misinformed. Any citizen or legal resident who earns 40 quarters of Social Security coverage is entitled to a retirement benefit at retirement age. There are no exceptions.

The Social Security Act’s Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) requires the determination of a Social Security benefit by a separate, lower benefit calculation. This applies if the wage earner contributed to a pension rather than Social Security, for example, some state, local and federal pensions. The benefit is reduced, but never to zero.

If you were given misinformation by the Social Security Administration, go to your local Social Security office and insist on filing an application dated retroactive to the date you were told you were ineligible for a benefit. There is no time limit on correcting administrative errors.Do you have questions about Social Security? If so, feel free to drop me an email at Ask Mary Jane.