FAQ – Retirement Planning

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Will I qualify for Social Security when I retire?

You will not qualify for Social Security retirement benefits based on your CalSTRS-covered employment because you do not pay Social Security taxes.

You may qualify for Social Security benefits based on other employment or as a spouse, widow or widower. However, because you will receive a CalSTRS pension when you retire, two federal rules may reduce any potential Social Security benefits you might qualify for. Your CalSTRS pension will not be affected.

  • The Windfall Elimination Provision affects Social Security benefits that are based on your earnings. Social Security uses a different formula to calculate benefits for people who receive a pension from work where Social Security taxes were not taken out of your pay.
  • The Government Pension Offset (GPO) affects your spousal, widow or widower Social Security benefits that are based on your spouse’s earnings. The GPO reduces the amount of your Social Security spouse's, widow's or widower's benefits by two-thirds of the amount of your CalSTRS pension.

For more information on qualifying for Social Security when you retire, watch What Educators Need to Know about Social Security on CTAinvest.org.

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