Survivor annuity and Social Security


Q. I am covered under CSRS as a court reporter in the federal court. I have also paid more than the minimum Social Security taxes on my transcripts earnings over my entire career of 37 years and thus am not subject to offset. When I retire, I will elect to have my spouse receive the maximum 55 percent of my CSRS pension if I predecease her.

1)  Is the survivor annuity premium still deducted from her benefit upon my death? Is her 55 percent benefit calculated upon my entire CSRS pension amount, or is the survivor annuity amount first deducted?

2)  Since she has minimal Social Security contributions, I understand while I’m still alive, she may receive up to half of the amount of my Social Security benefit. If I die before her, I understand, as a widow, she may receive up to 100 percent of my Social Security benefit. Will her Social Security benefit be subject to offset because of her receipt of the 55 percent CSRS pension, in view of the fact that I am not subject to offset?

A. Her CSRS survivor annuity would be 55 percent on your unreduced annuity, increased by any cost-of-living adjustments made since you retired. Her Social Security survivor benefit wouldn’t be affected by the government pension offset because she wouldn’t be receiving an earned annuity from a retirement system where she didn’t pay Social Security taxes.


About Author

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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