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Elimination of the Minimum Benefit

Excerpted from "Social Security Handbook". See the up-to-date, official Social Security Handbook at

716. Elimination of the Minimum Benefit

716.1 Is there a minimum social security benefit?

The minimum social security benefit was eliminated in January 1982 for workers who initially become eligible for retirement or disability insurance benefits after December 1981. The PIA for these persons is either:

  1. The actual amount computed by a mathematical formula; or

  2. The amount determined from an extended version of the PIA table that was in the Social Security Act as of December 1978. That table has been extended downward from the original minimum of $121.80 to the lowest possible PIA ($1.70).

If you have covered employment for many years at low earnings, the special minimum PIA (see §717) may apply instead.

716.2 Is the elimination of the minimum social security benefit effective for members of religious orders?

If you are a member of a religious order, the elimination of the minimum social security benefit is effective January 1992 under the following conditions:

  1. You are required to take a vow of poverty (see §932);

  2. You become eligible for benefits or die in or after January 1992; and

  3. Your religious order elected Social Security coverage before December 29, 1981.

Last Revised: March, 2001

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