Social Security


Q. I receive an annuity and collect Social Security. My husband passed away in July 2015 and I applied for spousal benefits from Social Security. I was denied because of my annuity. Is there a limit on the amount of annuity you receive? I am going to lose everything because I am not entitled to even part of his Social Security, which in the beginning was supposed to be $500. I was told I could have collected when he was alive. Now I will get nothing because I have an annuity.

What I can do? I have a mortgage, house bills and credit cards. I feel that I should be entitled to widow benefits. They sent me my denial letter and I am supposed to sign it declaring that I am declining spousal benefits. I have not signed it because I am not declining — they are declining for me.

A. It would appear that you are subject to the government pension offset provision of law. The GPO reduces (and often eliminates) the Social Security benefit of anyone who is receiving an annuity from a retirement system, such as CSRS, where he or she didn’t pay Social Security taxes. For more information about the GPO and how it would affect any spousal survivor annuity, go to


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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