October 20, 2012

Receiving Social Security Benefits on Earnings Received Prior to Opting Out of Social Security

Question:
A minister is deciding whether to opt out of social security for purposes of his ministerial income. He previously paid into social security through another non-ministry job, and is wondering if he would still get social security benefits if he decided to opt out of social security now that he is a minister?

Answer:

A minister who has contributed to social security and met the eligibility requirements will not be denied the benefit of his contributions if he decides to opt out of paying social security for his ministerial earnings. The minister should consult either the annual statement of projected benefits (called "Your Social Security Statement") he receives from the Social Security Administration or www.SSA.gov.

Opting out of social security only affects income received for ministerial services, not income previously received as non-ministerial compensation. Further, any non-ministerial employment or self-employment continues to be subject to social security and Medicare tax and will, therefore, contribute to the minister's eventual retirement benefits.

For additional help on ministers opting out of social security, type in “Form 4361” in the search box above.

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