Q. My wife and I are both CSRS annuitants. I retired in October 1986 and am receiving both CSRS and Social Security benefits because I had significant years worked in the private sector. When I retired, I elected a reduced CSRS annuity to leave 55 percent of my annuity to my spouse in the event of my death. My wife is not eligible to receive Social Security because she retired after 1986. Will my wife be eligible to receive my Social Security benefits as a surviving spouse?
A. First, let me correct a misunderstanding. If your wife accumulated at least 40 credits under Social Security during her working lifetime, she would be eligible for a Social Security benefit. However, it would be a reduced one if she had fewer than 30 years of substantial earnings under Social Security. On the other hand, because she is receiving an annuity from a retirement system in which she didn’t pay Social Security taxes, any Social Security survivor benefit to which she is entitled would be reduced by $2 for every $3 she receives in her CSRS annuity.