Double dipping


Q: My brother-in-law recently died and his wife, a retired federal worker, applied for survivor benefits at the Social Security Administration. She was advised that since she is receiving a federal retirement she is not eligible to receive any survivor benefits. I searched this site and others and have been unable to find an exact case. This response from the Social Security Administration seems bizarre.

A: She was affected by the government pension offset provision of law. The GPO reduces the Social Security spousal or survivor benefit of anyone who is receiving an annuity from a retirement system where he or she didn’t pay Social Security taxes. The reduction is $2 for every $3 received in his or her annuity. To better understand this provision, go to


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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

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