Mailbag: Opting out of Social Security and Medicare Coverage

answers to social security questions

Today’s Social Security question comes from Dan in Hawaii.

“Hello, I read your blog online and wondered if I could ask you a question? I am a minister writing in regards to potentially opting out of SS on the grounds of my faith. If I do choose to opt out due to religious reasons can you tell me if my wife and I would still receive Medicare once retired? I have read articles that seem to say that opting out of SS will also opt you out of Medicare, but I have also read some articles that share that if we have already paid 10 years into SS that Medicare will then be guaranteed even if we opt out of SS? I would love it if you wouldn’t mind clarifying the ramifications for us specifically in regards to Medicare if we do opt out?

Thank you so much,


First, how awesome it must be to live in Hawaii! I’ve never been, but I’ve been hearing talk around my house about planning a trip next year :-).

There are a few unknown things that make it really hard to give you a precise answer. Generally, ministers do have the option of opting out of Social Security, but they must opt out within the first two years of their ministry. If you’ve been a minister for a while, you simply don’t have that option.

If you are a new minister, and want to opt out, you must agree to the following language from the IRS Publication 4361:

I certify that I am conscientiously opposed to, or because of my religious principles I am opposed to, the acceptance of any public insurance that makes payments in the event of death, disability, old age, or retirement; or that makes payments toward the cost of, or provides services for, medical care. 

If you agree to this language, the financial ramifications of opting out may not be important to you. But if you want to review them, please read my article on the cost of opting out of Social Security.

If you have already paid in enough years to qualify for Medicare, you’ll be covered even if you opt out of Social Security now.

If you opt out without paying in enough years (or credits), you’ll still be covered. You’ll just have to pay for what others get free.  The credits for Medicare purposes simply reduce, or eliminate, your part A premium.  The chart below lists the part A premium amounts for the corresponding Social Security credits. (Typically, one year = 4 credits)

Social Security Credits for Medicare


If you want to read about the number of credits required for other benefits, please read my article on Social Security Credits.

Thanks for your question!

A note for all readers.

I love Social Security questions! I’ll answer them privately as time allows, but if I think the answer will benefit a wide audience, I’ll also publish them on my blog. Don’t worry, I’ll change up enough personal details so you’ll stay unknown. Send your questions to

If you need individual and specific help, I’m always available for a consultation.

As a final resource, read my article on other ways to find answers to your Social Security questions.