CSRS and spousal Social Security benefits

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Q: I understand that because I am a Civil Service Retirement System retiree, if my spouse should die I cannot get any of his Social Security. At one time I heard there was a law Congress was trying to pass to reverse this. Can you please explain this to me and let me know if there is anything being done about this law?

A: Because you will be receiving an annuity from a retirement system in which you didn’t pay Social Security taxes, you will be subject to the government pension offset provision of law. The GPO will reduce any spousal Social Security benefit to which you may be entitled by $2 for every $3 you receive in your CSRS annuity. While bills have been introduced in Congress to modify or eliminate the GPO, they haven’t gone anywhere.

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Reg Jones was head of retirement and insurance policy at the Office of Personnel Management. Email your retirement-related questions to fedexperts@federaltimes.com.

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