Government pension offset


Q. Please clarify where you obtained the answer to the question below, which was posted on your website. I have contacted the Social Security office and have been told that my spouse’s earned Social Security benefits will be offset by 2/3 of the survivor benefit should I die. And if the offset is higher than my spouse’s Social Security benefit, then the Social Security benefit will be zero. Your answer to the question says the complete opposite:


Q. I am collecting a pension under CSRS. My wife, who has worked and contributed to Social Security, plans to start collecting her Social Security pension this year at age 62. I have opted for survivor benefits under CSRS.

How will my wife’s Social Security pension change in the event of my death — and, vice versa, will my federal pension change because of her passing?

A. If you died, your wife would be able to receive both her earned Social Security benefit and a CSRS survivor annuity, with no reduction in either.

A. You didn’t read the question and answer with enough care. The writer wanted to know if his wife could receive both her earned Social Security benefit and a CSRS survivor annuity with no reduction in either. The correct answer is yes, and it’s the answer I gave him.

Your situation is entirely different. If you are receiving an annuity from a retirement system where you didn’t pay Social Security taxes, such as CSRS, and are entitled to a Social Security spousal or survivor benefit based on your spouse’s earned Social Security benefit, that benefit will be subject to the government pension offset provision of law. The GPO reduces any spousal or survivor benefit by $2 for every $3 you receive in your annuity.


About Author

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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