WEP vs. GPO

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Q. Recently, a colleague and I were reading your Dec. 2 article “Don’t let these 5 mistakes disrupt your plans.”

Your statement on number 5 (not accounting for the government pension offset) leaves us wondering.

We are under CSRS and retiring this month. Her husband is still working and will be eligible to draw Social Security benefits when his time comes to do so.

Your statement indicates that when he draws Social Security, her CSRS annuity will be reduced. REALLY?  I know that if he draws Social Security and dies, she eligible to receive his Social Security, but her pension with CSRS will be reduced due an offset/windfall.

This is his retirement, when he is eligible. Even though he is drawing Social Security while he is alive, this will be an offset/windfall to HER CSRS pension?

A. There are two provisions of law. The windfall elimination provision applies to retirees who are receiving an annuity from a retirement system where they didn’t pay Social Security taxes, such as CSRS. If they have fewer than 30 years of substantial earnings under Social Security, their Social Security benefit will be reduced. The government pension offset applies to the spousal Social Security benefit on those who receive an annuity from a retirement system, like CSRS, where they didn’t pay Social Security taxes. It reduces the spousal Social Security benefit by $2 for every $3 they receive in that annuity.

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  1. Thank you for your continued excellent responses. I would modify the above response, though, to read “If they have fewer than 30 years of substantial earnings under Social Security at age 62, their Social Security benefit will be reduced. I, like perhaps many others, figured WEP would not apply because I would have 30 years of substantial earning by the time I retired (closer to age 67) but I recently found you need the 30 years by the time you are 62.

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