Social security and civil service pensions


Q. I have worked for the postal service since 1982, so I will not get social security because I do not have any credits. I was told though that if my husband passes away, I cannot receive any of his social security benefits because I have a civil service pension. Is this correct?

A. Because you are receiving an annuity from CSRS, a retirement system where you didn’t pay Social Security taxes, any spousal Social Security you might be entitled to would be affected by the government pension offset provision of law. The GPO would reduce that benefit by $2 for every $3 you receive in your CSRS annuity.


About Author

Reg Jones was head of retirement and insurance policy at the Office of Personnel Management. Email your retirement-related questions to


  1. I am retired CSRS and was not eligible for any Social Security benefit from my spouse who drew SS. He recently passed away and several has told me I am one entitled to a portion of his SS benefit. Is this true?

  2. My mother is a CSRS retiree, her husband just passed away and was on social security. I understand the GPO, but what about those retirees who retired before 2004 under the exemptions? May they still draw the spouse social security?

  3. Susan Walker on

    I am an offset GS-7 retiree. I had 13 years under CSRS and 17 years as Offset. My husband passed away last month and was paying into SS (Non Civilian) all his life. His SS is annuity is substantially more than my SS and Pension and yet SSA is telling me that “they cannot pay monthly benefits at this time. I understand that my pension and my SS offset his but is still less. Is this correct?

    • Perhaps it’s your age that’s an impediment. Social Security survivor benefits for a widow are first payable at age 60.

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