Roughly 11 percent of those “never beneficiaries” are employees who worked in jobs that receive a public pension and don’t pay into Social Security. Among the groups potentially affected: government workers, teachers and railroad employees. (For example, a 2014 report from advocate TeacherPensions.org estimated 1.2 million teachers — or about 40 percent of the nation’s public K-12 teachers — aren’t covered by Social Security.)
Navigating this area of Social Security gets tricky, said certified financial planner Mark LaSpisa, president of Vermillion Financial Advisors in South Barrington, Illinois.
You could be eligible for some benefits if your work record includes time at other jobs that did pay into Social Security — but different provisions may kick in that reduce your own benefit by up to 50 percent, or even completely wipe out spousal or survivor benefits.
Don’t expect a straightforward answer, said LaSpisa, who once spent two years helping a client determine her eligibility for Social Security based on the record of her deceased husband, who had worked for a railroad.
“Most of the [Social Security] offices have no clue how to handle this, because it’s not a normal process,” he said.