Spousal benefits from Social Security


Q. I medically retired from the Postal Service in 2003 and received 100 percent total and permanent disability from the VA the same year. Post office retirement is under CSRS and I failed to do the military payback for two years, nine months of service. I have 12 years employment under Social Security and my wife has none. I will be 62 in four months and have received notice from OPM that my CSRS annuity will probably be reduced when I become eligible for Social Security benefits. I have received vast amounts of conflicting information from people that I suspect have little grasp on my situation but I am assuming that the Social Security benefit will net no financial increase by the time WEP, offsets, etc. are in place.

My biggest point of concern is my wife’s eligibility to draw Social Security on my contributions. Our HR rep at the post office told us she would not be eligible because of my CSRS annuity; my VA counselor says that she will be eligible due to the fact of my 100 percent combat-related disability through the VA but has of yet not been able to show me anything in writing. I was denied Social Security disability due to a clerical snafu and didn’t try to appeal since I hadn’t paid Social Security for over 10 years and would have only been awarded Medicare privileges if I had won. Would being declared disabled through Social Security Administration have any bearing on my wife’s eligibility?

A. Your own benefits will be affected two ways. First, the period of active-duty service for which you didn’t make a deposit will be eliminated and your annuity recomputed downward. Second, any Social Security benefit to which you’ll be entitled will be affected by the windfall elimination provision, which reduces the Social Security benefit of anyone who receives an annuity in whole or part from a retirement system like CSRS where he didn’t pay Social Security taxes and has fewer than 30 years of covered service under Social Security.

Unless your wife is receiving an annuity from a retirement system where she didn’t pay Social Security taxes and has fewer than 30 years of Social Security covered service, she’ll be able to receive a spousal Social Security benefit based on your Social Security-covered employment, but only if she is age 62 or older.

About Author

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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