Social Security - Any stabs at this one?


Full time employment: Posting here.
Apr 18, 2015
Sort of a confusing Social Security question here which people may or may not know the answer to but here's it goes anyway.

A couple of years ago I was talking to a Social Security person over the phone and explained that only paid into Social Security for a few years simply because I was a life long public employee who was never required to contribute so I knew I didn't have enough quarters to claim SS in the future. She went on to say that I still qualified for a smaller amount under my wife's earnings once she applies for SS. BUT, she asked how much my pension was per year and when I said over 100k she sort of laughed and said no, you make to much to qualify for anything.

Fast forward to this week, my wife has finally applied for SS (has more than enough quarters) and when she was talking to the SS rep over the phone he said that he was looking at both my record and my wife's record and felt that I still qualified of SS under her work history because she had more than enough credits (Quarter's?) which could be applied to my account. He suggested that I apply once her SS has started in a couple of months. I even received a follow up letter from SS advising me that I might be eligible for SS and that I should file an application.

Now I'm a more confused than ever! Anyone else ever have a situation like this? At this point I guess I'll apply and see what happens. All they can say is no.
Not an expert at all.

But they're sort of both right I think.

If your wife is eligible for SS, then you are or will be eligible for spousal SS on her record as long as you've been married long enough (where long enough is pretty short for spousal SS). Your benefit is something like half her SS benefit but less if you take it early.

It's then possible that your spousal SS will be reduced (possibly to $0) based on WEP or GPO. (ETA: reading the web page below it looks like GPO might apply but WEP would not.) I know nothing about those two things other than that they exist and they can reduce SS.

I agree with the file and see what happens, but don't be surprised if the result is that your spousal SS is approved and reduced to $0.

It looks like this page might be helpful to you:

If you are not yet drawing your pension you would be eligible for SS.
100K pension is a great green salve to cure the reduced to zero SS claim.
I would also claim on SS just to find out if you qualify for any payment.

Good luck,

100K pension is a great green salve to cure the reduced to zero SS claim.
I would also claim on SS just to find out if you qualify for any payment.

Good luck,

You could do that, or you could just do the math at home. For a person who gets a pension from a government job as to which they did not contribute to social security, the Government Pension Offset (GPO) will reduce any spousal (and eventually survivor) social security benefit by 2/3 of the amount of the pension. Since the maximum social security benefit for someone at full retirement age in 2024 is $3822/month, the maximum spousal benefit is 1/2 of that or $1911/month (=$22,932 per year). If you have a pension exceeding $100k per year, 2/3 of that will easily eliminate the spousal benefit.

See What is the maximum Social Security retirement benefit payable?
Thanks everyone, yes I'd be willing to bet now that the GPO which was mentioned above will reduce my benefit to zero like the original SS person told me years ago. I was at least hoping for enough to cover my Part B payment! I guess I'll apply and see what happens, I just won't get my hopes up. Thanks!
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