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Yet Another Spousal Benefit Question
Old 05-25-2012, 08:50 AM   #1
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Yet Another Spousal Benefit Question

Apologies up front: I know there have been several very informative threads in the past about spousal SS bennys, but I just haven't found clarification for this in my search of many of those: DW has been (and continues to be) a public school teacher for most of her working life, and her paychecks reflect a contribution to the state retirement system, but no contribution to SS. The sum total of her SS contributions are confined to a few years around college time PT work. As for me, I've been a SS contributor all my working life. Will she be eligible for spousal benefits from my contributions when she hits FRA, even though she is receiving a state pension and hasn't had SS deductions in over 30 years? My wife will be trying to get clarification on that from her peers and her employer as well, but maybe someone else has been in a similar situation and can share experience. Thanks all.
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Old 05-25-2012, 09:35 AM   #2
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Sounds like she'll be affected by the Govt Pension Offset (GPO). My wife is in the same boat. You can read all about it here:

GPO
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May have found answer
Old 05-25-2012, 09:36 AM   #3
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May have found answer

Shortly after original post (natch), I may have found my own answer.

Social Security and Spouses - Retirement Planning - Pay & Benefits - GovExec.com

Not a 100% exact fit to my situation, but I suspect it applies. (I'd be Martha in this example.)

The Players: John, a CSRS employee, age 66, is planning to continue working for a few more years before collecting his CSRS retirement. Martha, who is retired from a career in the banking industry, is now receiving a Social Security benefit of $1,600 per month at 66.

John has very little Social Security-covered employment since he spent most of his career exempt from paying the Social Security tax as a CSRS employee. So for this example, his entitlement to Social Security benefits is based on his wife’s work record, rather than his own. Since John is now at the full retirement age for Social Security, he is entitled to receive benefits without applying an earnings limit. When his wife applied for her Social Security benefit, John discovered he is entitled to 50 percent of her benefit and can begin receiving $800 per month. Once he retires from federal service and begins receiving his CSRS retirement benefit, he must notify Social Security. He then will be subject to the Government Pension Offset, which will reduce his Social Security spousal benefit by two-thirds of his CSRS retirement. At that time, his entitlement to his wife’s Social Security benefit will be eliminated.

If John was entitled to his own Social Security benefit, then he would receive his own or 50 percent of his wife’s benefit, whichever is higher. When John begins receiving his CSRS retirement, his Social Security benefit (had he been entitled to a benefit on his own work record) would be recomputed under the modified Windfall Elimination Provision formula. It is important for CSRS employees who are over the full Social Security retirement age and are receiving Social Security benefits to notify the Social Security Administration when they retire under CSRS, since their Social Security benefit must be recomputed based on the WEP and the GPO.


Net sum zero. No free money for DW. Oh well.
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