Should Pastors Opt Out of Social Security?

Growing up, we have some very financially tough times. And that’s unfortunately not uncommon. Finances are often tight for those in the ministry. You get into ministry, not because of money, but because of mission.


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In this episode we focus on pastors’ finances. We answer these questions:

  1. Everyone keeps telling me to opt out of Social Security. Should I?
  2. How can I get my church to increase my housing allowance?

Here is the Guidestone piece I reference: Social Security Considerations

And here is this episode’s Money Challenge:

Be generous to a pastor that has positively impacted your life. Maybe, send a note of encouragement or give them a quick call to say “thank you.” Find some way to encourage and bless them. Let them know you appreciate their ministry.

Send us your money questions to art@artrainer.com!

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5 thoughts on “Should Pastors Opt Out of Social Security?

  1. I was 38 yrs old when I finished seminary and had paid in the max to Social Security during my years as a manager in the corporate world. I opted out during the first year of full time ministry. Not once have I regretted the decision, however that may not be a sound decision for a younger pastor who has not paid in for the needed forty quarters. I began drawing my S. S. at age 62 and am now 71 yrs old. It really was a good decision for me.
    A side note…. this saved the churches I’ve served as they never had to contribute the usual 1/2 to my account. None of these churches ever thought of it as a savings.

  2. I would say definitely not. We are living comfortably on Social Security, and unless the pastor has an unswerving and permanent to take those funds and and invest them in something else, I’d say opting out is a seriously bad idea.

  3. What about bivocational pastors? If I, as a bivocational pastor opt out, will it effect my social security benefits from my regular job?

  4. I have worked regular jobs, as bi-vocational minister for most of my life. It was only the last 6 years that I was in ministry full time, as a Vocational Senior Pastor. After speaking with tax professionals, I was told to first check out to see if I had given enough over the years to be vested in Social Security, which I have. I was told that they would recommend my making the change, as it would be a blessing to both me and the church.

    Also, they told me that if I became Bi-vocational again, where I started working a job to supplement my ministry pay, I would have to pay into Social Security from all non pastoral jobs. Which would mean that I would be receiving Social Security benefits even if opted out, after the age of 62 or 65…depending on when I started receiving my Social Security.

    Maybe you should have another session to update this information. I see that others have seen this as well, in their experience, unless there are new laws in effect that have changed things.