Survivor benefits for couple – one FERS, one CSRS


Q. I am a FERS participant and my wife is CSRS. Are survivor benefits reduced for either participant because of their earned pension, as is done with GPO? Also, my understanding is my Social Security survivor benefits to my CSRS wife would be reduced/eliminated because of the GPO. For example, if her CSRS pension is $40,000/year, and my Social Security survivor benefit is $12,000/year, there would be no Social Security survivor benefits.

A. Either of you would be entitled to an unreduced survivor annuity in addition to your own earned annuity. Because your wife is covered by CSRS, a retirement system where she didn’t pay Social Security taxes, any Social Security spousal or survivor benefit would be affected by the government pension offset provision of law. Because of the GPO, her Social Security benefit would be reduced by $2 for every $3 she received in her 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

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