Q: I retired under CSRS in 2005 after 23 years with the Secret Service as an 1811 LEO. Private employment has permitted me to acquire enough earned SS credits to qualify for $1,028 per month at 62 years of age. My wife has also been privately employed for 35 years and has earned Social Security credits to qualify for $923 per month at 62. What impact will GPO and WEP have on my Social Security benefits? Does it make a difference if I apply for Social Security benefits before my wife (I’m six months older) with respect to survivor benefits?

A: The government pension offset will likely eliminate any Social Security spousal benefit to which you would otherwise be entitled. That’s because it will reduce that benefit by $2 for every $3 you receive in your CSRS annuity. On the other hand, the windfall elimination provision will reduce but not eliminate your earned Social Security benefit. As for who applies first for a Social Security benefit, I’m not aware that it would make any difference. Neither the GPO or the WEP will apply to your wife. And while your earned Social Security will be reduced, any Social Security spousal benefit to which she would be entitled would not. However, she would only get the larger of the two benefits.


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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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