Ex-spouse Social Security benefits


Q.  I am a government DoD CSRS employee of 38 years and plan on working for another couple of years –- I want that 40 years with 80 percent of my salary as retirement. I turn 62 this September and have been told I can draw my ex’s Social Security starting Oct 1. We were married for 28 years.  Is this true? Is there a limit on the amount of money I can draw while I am still employed? I know when I retire, it will offset my retirement (which I feel is unfair).

A.  Because your marriage lasted at least 10 years, you can receive benefits on your ex-husband’s Social Security record if he is receiving Social Security benefits, but only if you are currently unmarried, age 62 or older, and still employed. If he hasn’t applied for benefits, you can still qualify for those benefits if you you have been divorced from him for at least two years. The amount of your benefit will depend on your age and the amount of benefit your ex-husband is entitled to receive. Once you retire, you will be subject to the government pension offset, which will reduce or eliminate the amount of your Social Security ex-spousal benefit. The reduction will be two-thirds of the amount of your CSRS annuity.

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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 fedexperts@federaltimes.com.

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