Social Security


Q. My husband is a retired federal employee receiving a CSRS pension. I have been paying Social Security taxes based on my own employment earnings since before we were married.

1. As the wife of a federal employee who is receiving a federal pension, will I receive my full Social Security benefit when I reach retirement age?

2. If I outlive my husband, how much of his federal pension would I receive, and would I also continue to receive my full Social Security?

3. Will he receive Social Security benefits based on employment earnings in nonfederal jobs he held prior to and after his federal employment?

4. If, as a retired federal employee, he will never be eligible for Social Security benefits, should he be paying Social Security taxes — which he has in the past and is doing in nonfederal jobs?

A. 1. Yes, you will receive the Social Security benefit you earned.

2. Assuming that your husband elected a full survivor benefit for you, you would receive a survivor annuity that was 55 percent of his original, unreduced annuity, increased by any cost-of-living increases he received up to the day he died. Plus you would continue to receive your earned Social Security benefit.

3. If he has earned at least 40 Social Security credits, he’d be entitled to a Social Security benefit. However, because he’s receiving an annuity from CSRS, a retirement system where he didn’t pay Social Security taxes, he’d be subject to the windfall elimination provision. The WEP would reduce that benefit if he had fewer than 30 years of substantial earnings under Social Security.

4. If he hasn’t earned 40 credits under Social Security, he wouldn’t be entitled to a Social Security benefit. That fact has no bearing on whether Social Security deductions should be taken from his wages. Those deductions are required by law. Note: Although you didn’t ask if your husband would be entitled to a Social Security spousal benefit based on your work record, the answer is yes, he would. However, because of the government pension offset provision of law, that benefit would be reduced by $2 for every $3 he receives in his CSRS annuity.


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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