Government pension outset


Q: I am a federal retiree covered by the Civil Service Retirement System. I receive a pension and Social Security check. I was vested in Social Security before my government employment. I was, however, rather surprised by how much my SS annuity was reduced by my government employment, especially as I was already vested. My question is about my wife. She was a Maryland state employee who quit after I retired so we could move to North Carolina. She will receive a small state annuity. Since she paid into Social Security as a state employee, she will also receive a Social Security annuity. Our question is about how the government pension offset (GPO) will affect her annuities. I try to understand her Social Security statement and the GPO provision, but I am stumped. I have read your explanations and, sorry to say, I still don’t get it! Will either of her annuities be reduced? If so, which one? Is there a general percentage we can expect for the reductions, if any?

A: There won’t be any reduction in your wife’s Social Security benefit. In fact, if you were to die before she does and you had elected a survivor annuity for her when you retired, she’d be able to receive both her Social Security benefit and the CSRS survivor annuity, with no reduction in either. There isn’t any federal law that would affect her state annuity; whether there is a state law that would, is something you’ll have to find out from them. As for you, you’ve already experienced the effect of the windfall elimination provision. When your wife retires, you will also be subject to the government pension offset, which will likely eliminate any spousal Social Security benefit to which you would otherwise be entitled based on your wife’s Social Security-covered work history.

— Reg Jones


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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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