SSA logo: link to Social Security Online home1131. Exemptions from Self-Employment Coverage

1131.1 Who can obtain exemptions from self-employment coverage?

An exemption from self-employment coverage under Social Security can be obtained by:

  1. Any duly ordained, commissioned, or licensed minister of a church, member of a religious order who has not taken a vow of poverty; or

  2. Any Christian Science practitioner who is conscientiously opposed, or because of religious principles is opposed, to the acceptance of Social Security benefits (or other public insurance providing similar benefits) based on services as a minister, member or practitioner.

1131.2 How is an exemption obtained?

An exemption is obtained by the timely filing with IRS of a Form 4361 (Application for Exemption From Self-Employment Tax for Use by Ministers, Members of Religious Orders, and Christian Science Practitioners).

Applications filed after 1986 must also contain a statement that you have informed the ordaining, commissioning or licensing body of the church, or order of your opposition to the acceptance of Social Security benefits.

1131.3 Can the exemption be revoked?

Generally, this exemption is irrevocable. See §1130.4 for exemptions.

1131.4 What income is covered by the exemption?

The exemption applies only to net earnings from the exercise of the ministry, in the exercise of the duties required by the religious order, or from the practice as a Christian Science practitioner. Once having filed a valid application for exemption, a minister, member, or practitioner cannot later acquire Social Security credit for earnings from these services. However, Social Security taxes will continue to be paid by any minister, member, or practitioner filing such a certificate on any other self-employment income or covered wages.