Q. My husband worked for the government for 25 years under CSRS and receives a pension. When he retired, we applied for spousal benefits because I had no qualifying employment. He then went to work in the private sector and will complete his 30 years of substantial earnings for Social Security next year. When he retires, he will receive another pension from his private job. As we understand it, we should not be affected by the windfall elimination provision. However, we are confused by the government pension offset. Will he not be entitled to draw his full Social Security at age 66 or later? How will it affect my half of his Social Security payments? How will it affect my spousal benefit of his federal pension should he die before I do? Am I correct in understanding that the pensions are not considered earned income and should not reduce the Social Security amount?
A. If he has 30 years of substantial earnings under Social Security, he won’t be affected by the windfall eliminating provision. He will be able to receive his CSRS annuity, his private sector pension and his Social Security benefit. The government pension offset applies only to the spousal Social Security benefit of someone receiving an annuity from a retirement system where he didn’t pay Social Security taxes, such as CSRS. In other words, if he was entitled to either a spousal or survivor Social Security benefit based on your work history, it would be reduced or eliminated by the GPO. Any survivor annuity or spousal or survivor Social Security benefit to which you would be entitled wouldn’t be affected by either the WEP or the GPO.