Q: I am a 63-year-old disabled woman. I was married in 1970 and divorced in 1990. My ex-husband was a police officer and did not pay Social Security taxes while he worked in law enforcement. He did pay into Social Security for a few years before he began working for law enforcement, but his pension would be very small. He is 64 and is still living. In 2000, I married for a second time. My husband is 73 and also disabled. He did work and paid into Social Security, his benefit amount is $1,651.40. In 1965, I began working for the Social Security Administration as a clerk. In 1972, I was in an accident and had a brain injury, so I began receiving a disability annuity through CSRS since I could no longer perform my job.My annuity at this time is $1,246. I did work for a few years and pay Social Security taxes, but none of my years had substantial earnings. I worked and paid into Social Security in 1965 and 1966, my highest earnings were $1,200 in 1965, and $1,008 in 1996. I didn’t work and pay into Social Security again until 1990 through 2000. My highest earning during this time was $9,633 and that was in 1996, all other years were below this amount. According to my earnings record, I have enough quarters for Medicare and if I retired when I am 66, my estimated Social Security benefit would be $257. My question is, how would the WEP affect me if I applied for a pension on my own Social Security record. Would I be entitled to any money from my record? It would sure help my husband and I. Also, would the GPO affect me if I applied for spousal benefits under my current husband. We have been married for 10 years. I would be entitled to a higher benefit amount on his record, but I believe if the GPO is applied, wouldn’t I get nothing? If my husband passes away, would my widow’s benefits be reduced? I am confused because I only worked for the government for a short time and began receiving my disability pension before the WEP became law. I don’t know how I will survive with just my small pension in the future. I am also not sure if the GPO would affect me since my annuity is based on my disability, not on my years of service with the government. Since this is my second marriage, would I be entitled to any benefits on my husband’s Social Security record?

A: Yes, you would be affected by both the windfall elimination provision and the government pension offset. While the WEP would reduce the amount of your earned Social Security benefit, it wouldn’t eliminate it. The GPO will always reduce and may even eliminate any spousal Social Security benefit you are entitled. To get an estimate of how you would be affected by the GPO, go to www.FEDbens.us and plug your numbers into the handy software on that site.


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