Q. I have worked 39 continuous years as a CSRS employee and am in the process of getting divorced from my wife of 37 years. We will be dividing the CSRS pension. My wife has sufficient Social Security quarters in the private sector that she will receive a Social Security retirement benefit based on her own record. Her lawyer and the Social Security office in Alabama say that she will incur a government pension offset because she is receiving a pension from which she didn’t pay Social Security. I think they are actually calling this a Social Security Offset. I’ve explained that this shouldn’t apply as she didn’t earn this pension and the GPO only applies to me. I contacted the Office of Personnel Management and have read your blogs on this question and both say her Social Security retirement wouldn’t be affected. What is the correct answer, and is there any direction or publications I can reference to steer us to the right answer?
A. You are right; they are wrong. Tell them to read their own publication at http://ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10007.pdf. The GPO only applies to someone who receives a pension based on work where he or she didn’t pay Social Security taxes.