Pension benefits from different spouses


Q. Can a widow receive survivor CSRS pension benefits from her first husband and widow’s Social Security benefits from her third husband? She is receiving both without any penalties. The widow is 74 and was collecting her own Social Security benefits before her third husband committed suicide.

A. Yes, as long is she isn’t receiving an annuity based on her own work record from a retirement system where she didn’t pay Social Security taxes. If she is, she’ll be subject to the government pension offset, which will reduce or eliminate her Social Security survivor benefit.


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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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