You've worked hard to earn your Social Security benefits, and the worst news possible would be if the government took them away. Yet that's exactly what happens in some situations, and you need to be able to predict if it's going to happen to you before it's too late to plan for it.

In this installment of The Motley Fool's Social Security Q&A, Dan Caplinger, The Motley Fool's director of investment planning, answers a question from Ilene, who asks whether a school pension she's eligible to receive will cut her benefits. Dan explains two different provisions that can cut benefits, including the windfall elimination provision for benefits on her own work history and the government pension offset for spousal benefits on her husband's work history. Dan notes that how much the windfall elimination provision reduces your benefits depends on a complex formula on how much time earn wages subject to Social Security taxation, while the government pension offset is usually a straight reduction of your benefits by two-thirds of your pension payment. Dan concludes that it's essential to know how these rules will affect you in order to make the smartest decision for your own particular situation.

Have general questions about Social Security? Email them to, and they might be the subject of a future video!