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Question

I receive none of my husbands benefit since I have a pension from driving a school bus. He ran his own business and paid into the system BOTH parts for 24 years before he passed with cancer. I still work and must work to maintain what little we have. A $236 check from SSI after medicare and my $900 check after taxes for the pension leaves little without working. The federal pensioners receive SSI if they had earned it. Why don't state pensioners?

 

 

Answer

As a widow/widower or spouse with a government pension from a federal, state or local government who did NOT participate in the Social Security system, you are being affected by the Social Security - Government Pension Offset

It affects both Social Security spousal benefits as well as widow/widower benefits.

 

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 reduces 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).

 

Some individuals are exempt from the offset. Generally, your Social Security benefits as a spouse, widow, or widower will not be reduced if you:

  • Are receiving a government pension that is not based on your earnings; or
  • Are a federal (including Civil Service Offset), state, or local government employee whose government pension is based on a job where you were paying Social Security taxes; and
    • You filed for and were entitled to spouse's, widow's, or widower's benefits before April 1, 2004;
    • Your last day of employment (that your pension is based on) is before July 1, 2004; or
    • You paid Social Security taxes on your earnings during the last 60 months of government service. (Under certain conditions, fewer than 60 months may be required for people whose last day of employment falls after June 30, 2004, and before March 2, 2009.)

The Social Security Windfall Elimination Provision reduces the Social Security benefits of the person who has earned it with some work covered by Social Security but not enough to give them a full benefit and they also have a government job with a government pension where they were not covered by Social Security.

 

More information:

Social Security Administration pamphlet - Government Pension Offset:

 

There is a lot more conversation on each of these provisions under the board here entitled "Social Security".  AARP Community Board: Social Security 

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