Aging, Online Services, Open Government, Retirement

Private Retirement Benefits and Social Security Working Together

March 31, 2016 • By

Last Updated: March 31, 2016

On August 14, 1935, President Franklin Roosevelt said, “We can never insure 100 percent of the population against 100 percent of the hazards and vicissitudes of life, but we have tried to frame a law which will give some measure of protection to the average citizen and to his family against the loss of a job and against poverty-stricken old age.

Nearly 81 years later, Social Security provides the foundation for retiring Americans that President Roosevelt imagined when he signed the program into law. The latest figures report that nearly 59 million Americans were receiving retirement, disability or survivors’ benefits from Social Security. Each year, nearly 15 million elderly Americans are lifted out of poverty by Social Security, proving that the program is indeed a crucial part of a secure retirement.

While Social Security provides a strong foundation for workers, the private retirement system also plays a key role in ensuring the economic well-being of retired Americans. Over 115 million workers receive retirement benefits through plans provided by their employers. In addition, the number of retirees receiving income from private retirement plans continues to increase.

On February 5, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce held a retirement forum focused on the success of employer-provided retirement systems. Panelists and speakers offered guidelines to help support the voluntary employment-based retirement benefits system and identified ways to encourage innovation and flexibility in the private retirement system. In addition, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce also released a white paper at the event entitled, “Private Retirement Benefits in the 21st Century: Achieving Retirement Security,” which recommends a series of steps to further bolster the private retirement system.

The true success story, however, is the combination of Social Security and employer-provided retirement benefits.‎ Working hand in hand, the private retirement system and Social Security can ensure that millions of Americans keep receiving the stable and secure income that they deserve.

To educate companies on the benefits of this partnership, the Chamber and the Social Security Administration are co-sponsoring‎ a conference, entitled “Promoting Retirement Security Makes Good Business Sense” on April 5, 2016 at 8:45 ET. The discussion will center on promoting the partnership between the Social Security and the business community to support a secure retirement for workers. We will also discuss how the current Social Security retirement program can supplement employer-provided retirement savings. I encourage you to tune in to the live webcast at US Chamber Live Webcast.

Have a question you would like to see answered on the day of the event? Post your question to @SSAOutreach using the hashtag #RETSCC and watch the live webcast to see if your question was chosen on the day of the event.

See Comments

About the Author


Randy Johnson, Senior Vice President, Labor, Immigration, & Employee Benefits, U.S. Chamber of Commerce


  1. Gary Delp

    After I have retired can I withdrawal my 401k in a lump sum and not effect my ssi monthly pay out?

    • Ray Fernandez, Public Affairs Specialist

      Hello Gary, if you’re referring to retirement benefits, your 401k lump sum payment will not affect your Social Security retirement benefits. See our Frequently Asked Questions web page for more information. Thanks!

  2. Dana Scott

    I need to understand how my Teacher Retirement benefits will affect my previously earned Social Security benefits.. I am 62 years old… 24 years in teaching and have years previous to this in Social Security…
    Planning retirement.

    • Vonda VanTil

      Hi Dana, thank you for using our blog to ask your question. A non-covered pension, a pension based on work that is not covered by Social Security (for example, Federal civil service and some State or local government agencies such as police officers and some teachers), may cause the amount of your Social Security benefit to be reduced. Your benefit can be reduced based on one of two provisions: The Government Pension Offset and the Windfall Elimination Provision. See our Information for Government Employees web page for details.

  3. Jennifer L Hill

    I am employed at Grayson College in Denison, TX and I currently contribute to TRS (Teachers Retirement Systems of Texas) and also Social Security. I had no choice in the matter of contributing to TRS. It was brought to my attention that if I should leave my current job to go work for another school district in Grayson County and I retire from the new job I will not be eligible for my 41 years of contributions to Social Security. Is this true? Also, if this is true will I not be eligible for the Social Security if I take a job (corporate, etc.) not within a school district?

    I hope I haven’t confused you. I am just hearing this and I am seriously concerned!

    Thank you,

    Jennifer Hill

  4. Marilyn Lou Swahn

    I went out on a disability retirement from the Federal Government & receive that benefit, but I was told & read that I should receive SSN along with my (FERS) & TSP. I can not receive Tsp until I am 67. But should be able to receive SSN benefits now. Is this still true?
    Thank You

    • Ray Fernandez, Public Affairs Specialist

      Thank you for your question, Marilyn. To qualify for Social Security disability benefits, you must first have worked in jobs covered by Social Security.
      Please keep in mind that the Social Security Act sets out a very strict definition of disability, much different than the requirements for other government programs. Disability benefits are paid to people who are unable to work because of a medical condition that is expected to last one year or more or to end in death. Social Security pays only for total disability. No benefits are payable for partial disability or short-term disability. However, if a person believes they are disabled and meets our definition of disability, we encourage them to apply for disability as soon as they become disabled. You can apply online, which is quick and easy.
      You can call our toll free number for further assistance at 1-800-772-1213. Representatives are available Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Thanks!

  5. Fernando Sarasua

    Hi, I am 81 years old, wife 74, we are retired and in Social security, I have a part time job and they take money from my pay check to pay Social Security and Medicare, why?
    I have not been able to find any help in the net, can you help?

    • Ray Fernandez, Public Affairs Specialist

      Hello Fernando. Under current law, everyone working in covered employment or self-employment regardless of age or eligibility for benefits must pay Social Security taxes. Generally, if you continue to work while receiving retirement benefits, your monthly benefit amount could increase. Each year, we review the records for all working Social Security recipients to see if additional earnings could their monthly benefits. For further income tax questions, you will need to contact the IRS. Their toll-free number is 1-800-829-1040. Thanks!

  6. Suzann M.Selfen

    I’m a retiring educator as of 01/01/2018-first check received 02/15/2018. I’ve received SS benefits from non-teaching jobs since turning 65 in 2011. I’m requesting appointment to determine what will happen to those SS benefits. There’re offices near me in San Diego CA.
    Suzann M. Selden

  7. Mike Pounds

    I am trying to find out if my 78 year old brother in law is eligible for private retirement from Armstrong Tire Company that he worked for from 1967 – 1987, local union # 303 in Natchez, MS. His name is Michael Pounds (Mike) ssn is *** – ** – ***, address is 384 Dabbs Rd, Waterproof, LA 71375, dob is 03/01/1939. His phone number is 318-719-5088 or call me Pat Dawson at 318-348-1873. Any help you can give us will be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance.

  8. Michael james glaspie

    Looking for lost 401k from about 30years ago 2of them

  9. Sharon Bint

    Imagine my surprise after teaching public high school for thirty years, knowing that I was not contributing to SS but at the same time paying more than my friends were into my own retirement account. Since I had taught and earned some SS quarters by teaching simultaneously as an adjunct at a state university and continued doing so after I retired, I acquired enough quarters to qualify for SS! Each spring I received a statement telling me how much my SS benefits would be. I was delighted that, while doing something I enjoyed doing, I was going to receive close to $500 in SS benefits. When I applied for my SS, looking forward to a nice little addition of $500 to my pension, I was contacted and told that my benefits would be determined by a different formula. The reason was that both of my retirement and my SS were based on employment by the state government. It made no sense to me that all of my SS quarters were earned independently of my main job and that I had received yearly statements projecting the amount of my SS benefits. I did not like the big picture, but I was forced to look at it. So, my SS benefits were, and stil are, $160. After laughing and being teased about my meager benefit for all of those quarters, I looked on the bright side. It paid my Medicare Part B, with about $60 left over! This coming year, it might not cover my Medicare; but, when you have no recourse, you do the best you can.

    • Ray Fernandez, Public Affairs Specialist

      See how the Windfall Elimination Provision can affect your Social Security benefit if you have fewer than 30 years of substantial earnings.

  10. Harrison

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