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Social Security – GPO eligibility question
Old 04-06-2016, 07:36 AM   #1
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Social Security – GPO eligibility question

I have read many posts here regarding SS and GPO. I am still somewhat confused so I apologize in advance if this has been specifically addressed before:

My wife is working as a teacher in GA (Gwinnett County) and covered by a State teacher’s pension and as the county pulled out of SS in the early 80’s she also has a county pension set up as a SS “replacement”. She has enough working time prior to the county pulling out of SS to qualify for benefits (separate question on WEP if she takes these benefits).

My question is would my wife qualify for GPO if she takes benefits as a spouse based on my benefits? Also does she need to wait till I reach my full SS retirement age to collect if she does qualify? (we are in our early 60’s). It appears her benefits would be significantly larger than the benefits she might receive on her own from SS after the WEP impact. I am just interested in determining if she would qualify based on my benefits; I can use the GPO calculator to determine the approximate amount she might receive.

Thanks for your help & advice!
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Old 04-06-2016, 07:55 AM   #2
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If she is subject to WEP, she is subject to GPO.

WEP affects what one receives based on one's own record, GPO affects what one receives from on another's record.
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Old 04-06-2016, 09:59 AM   #3
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Thread moved from the "Life After FIRE" section, to "FIRE and Money" at the request of Billk400.
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Old 04-06-2016, 01:50 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Billk400 View Post
I have read many posts here regarding SS and GPO. I am still somewhat confused so I apologize in advance if this has been specifically addressed before:

My wife is working as a teacher in GA (Gwinnett County) and covered by a State teacher’s pension and as the county pulled out of SS in the early 80’s she also has a county pension set up as a SS “replacement”. She has enough working time prior to the county pulling out of SS to qualify for benefits (separate question on WEP if she takes these benefits).

My question is would my wife qualify for GPO if she takes benefits as a spouse based on my benefits? Also does she need to wait till I reach my full SS retirement age to collect if she does qualify? (we are in our early 60’s). It appears her benefits would be significantly larger than the benefits she might receive on her own from SS after the WEP impact. I am just interested in determining if she would qualify based on my benefits; I can use the GPO calculator to determine the approximate amount she might receive.

Thanks for your help & advice!
Due to the GPO, which your DW will be impacted by, her SS spousal benefit (based on your earnings) will be reduced by two thirds of the amount of her pension. Likely, that means she'll receive zero spousal benefit based on your SS.

She'll receive SS based on her own earnings and they will be calculated using the WEP formula (which means less than without the WEP formula). Don't be surprised if the amount turns out to be very small.

It would be to your benefit to go to the SS website, read the material which is fairly clear (yes, even for a gov't web site!) and use the calculators. WEP and GPO are not good candidates for discussing with generalities as misunderstandings are rampant.

The typical outcome for people in your DW's situation is that they receive zero spousal SS, zero survivors's SS and (if they have 40 qtrs) a very small amount of SS based on their own earnings.
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Old 04-06-2016, 02:23 PM   #5
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I find all this very confusing. My husband was considered a state employee, did not pay into Social Security, except for a few years working on weekends as an EMT. He retired at age 55 with a very good pension. His SS reports show he has earned about $400/month SS benefits at age 62 (a couple years off). I understand that will be reduced because of WEP. I have a lesser pension from my employer and am drawing my SS (I'm 64 years young). Upon his death (hopefully many years away) I will draw 50% of his state pension. Will this affect my SS at that time?
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Old 04-06-2016, 02:35 PM   #6
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The typical outcome for people in your DW's situation is that they receive zero spousal SS, zero survivors's SS and (if they have 40 qtrs) a very small amount of SS based on their own earnings.

I don't think this is entirely correct. Spousal benefits are impacted, but it's my understanding that SS survivors benefits are not impacted. Do I have this wrong?


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Old 04-06-2016, 02:48 PM   #7
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I don't think this is entirely correct. Spousal benefits are impacted, but it's my understanding that SS survivors benefits are not impacted. Do I have this wrong?


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Yes, you are wrong.

From the SS site (bold mine):

Quote:
If you receive a pension from a government job in which you did not pay Social Security taxes, some or all of your Social Security spouse's, widow's or widower's benefit may be offset due to receipt of that pension. This offset is referred to as the Government Pension Offset, or GPO.

The GPO will reduce the amount of your Social Security spouse's, widow's or widower's benefits by two-thirds of the amount of your government pension. For example, if you receive a monthly civil service pension of $600, two-thirds of that, or $400, must be used to offset your Social Security spouse's, widow's or widower's benefits. If you are eligible for a $500 spouse's benefit, you will receive $100 per month from Social Security ($500 - $400 = $100).
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Old 04-06-2016, 03:01 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by calico1597 View Post
I find all this very confusing. My husband was considered a state employee, did not pay into Social Security, except for a few years working on weekends as an EMT. He retired at age 55 with a very good pension. His SS reports show he has earned about $400/month SS benefits at age 62 (a couple years off). I understand that will be reduced because of WEP. I have a lesser pension from my employer and am drawing my SS (I'm 64 years young). Upon his death (hopefully many years away) I will draw 50% of his state pension. Will this affect my SS at that time?
No, SS you are drawing based on your own record will not be impacted in any way. You will receive (if hubby predeceases you) 50% of his state penison and your SS will not change.

The impact of GPO is the other way around. Your DH will not receive any of your SS either as spousal benefits or as survivor benefits. If you predecease your DH, your SS stops, period, nothing to him.
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Old 04-06-2016, 03:24 PM   #9
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"Due to the GPO, which your DW will be impacted by, her SS spousal benefit (based on your earnings) will be reduced by two thirds of the amount of her pension. Likely, that means she'll receive zero spousal benefit based on your SS"

Thanks for the clarification of eligibility. Actually taking the spousal benefit (50% of my benefit) and subtracting the GPO is approximately double what she would get by filing under her benefits and subtracting the WEP. She started to receive her "SS replacement" pension at age 52 which is approx. $ 550/ month so she (we) will make out much better by her claiming under my benefits (50%) as the "offset" pension is not large. She does have an additional state pension which all teachers in GA get whether their county Board of Ed was in or out of SS.
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