I am getting a teacher pension (non covered w/ss). I need 18 more quarters of covered work to reach 40 quarters. would I be able to collect any benefits from ss if I returned to work? Would I be eligible for divorced spousal benefits if I completed the 18 quarters? Thank you for your time, Pat
You don't need to be insured on your own record to potentially be eligible for divorced spousal benefits (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/divspouse.html). However, if you receive a non-covered government pension, 2/3rds of your pension amount would be offset against any potential divorced spousal benefits for which you're eligible. So, if 2/3rds of your teacher's pension is more than your potential divorced spousal benefit rate, you likely wouldn't be able to receive any divorced spousal benefits. This is due to the government pension offset provision, or GPO (https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10007.pdf).
On the other hand, if you earn enough credits to be insured for Social Security retirement benefits on your own record, you will be able to receive some benefits in spite of your teacher's pension. There is a windfall elimination provision, or WEP (https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10045.pdf) that causes a less generous benefit formula to be used to calculate retirement rates for people receiving non-covered pensions, but the WEP provision never reduces the benefit amount payable to zero.
You may want to consider using the maximization software available on this website. The software is fully programmed to handle both the GPO and WEP provisions, and it allows you to enter projected future earnings so that you can determine how much you would be able to draw if you earn enough credits to become insured for benefits.