Q: My husband and I are both Civil Service Retirement System Offset employees who will elect a survivor annuity. Can you explain how a CSRS Offset employee’s survivor annuity offset amount is calculated? A specific example would be helpful of how the offset amount is applied to a survivor annuity.
When my husband begins getting Social Security, his annuity is estimated to be offset by about $800, mine by about $200. If I receive a survivor annuity upon his death, will my survivor annuity amount be reduced dollar for dollar by the full $800, or will my husband’s full annuity amount be reduced by the $800 offset and then have the survivor annuity calculation (55 percent of the reduced offset annuity) applied to arrive at the spousal annuity amount? Or is there another way of calculating? My Social Security benefit will not be as large as my husband’s, so I will qualify for his Social Security benefit upon his death.
A: A surviving spouse who isn’t eligible for a Social Security survivor benefit is paid the full CSRS survivor annuity. A surviving spouse who is entitled to a Social Security survivor benefit will have that annuity reduced by the amount of Social Security survivor benefit that is attributable to the period the deceased annuitant was employed under CSRS Offset. That offset normally occurs at age 60. If you are entitled to a Social Security survivor benefit and a Social Security benefit based on your own record, you will receive the larger of the two benefit amounts, but not both.