Windfall elimination provision


Q. My husband and I are both 61 and considering retiring next year. I’m a CSRS Offset employee with approximately 32 years of service (complicated by a break in service for which I withdrew my retirement and never repaid it). My husband worked 41 years for the railroad.

If I die, and he gets a survivor annuity, will it be subject to the windfall provisions of a reduced benefit of $2 for every $3 because he never paid into Social Security? If so, would it be better for me to take my full annuity and not have it reduced for the survivor benefit, which will then be even more reduced?

And while I’m on the subject: The railroad retirement systems allows for a spouse to get a pension, as well as my husband’s officer pension. Will I be able to get that? Or will my either CSRS/SSA or wife’s pension be reduced by that?

And my husband keeps asking:  There’s no living spouse pension on the CSRS portion like the railroad has?

A. Your husband wouldn’t be subject to the windfall elimination provision, which applies to the earned Social Security benefit of someone who is receiving an annuity from a retirement system where he didn’t pay Social Security taxes. However, he would be subject to the government pension offset, which would reduce any Social Security spousal benefit he would otherwise be entitled to by $2 for every $3 he receives in his own annuity.

As a CSRS Offset employee, your own annuity wouldn’t be subject to the windfall elimination provision. And you would be able to receive any spousal or survivor annuity based on his employment.

In answer to your husband’s question, the federal government doesn’t have a living spouse benefit.


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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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