Can My Wife Draw Spousal Benefits Before She Starts Drawing Her Government Pension?

Dec 30 2016 - 9:00am

My wife has a 401a government pension. She paid no Social Security tax for the 17 years on that job. If she retires and dose not draw a benefit until she has to do the rmd at 70, can she receive 50 % of my Social Security from 62 to 70. Then at 70 when we have to draw , and the GPO kicks in effect.
Thank you , Mark

Hi Mark,

Yes, the Government Pension Offset (GPO) would not apply to your wife's spousal benefits until she starts drawing her government pension. Of course, you must be drawing your Social Security benefits in order for her to be eligible for spousal benefits. And, she would also be deemed to file for Social Security retirement benefits on her own record, if she's eligible, when she files for the spousal benefits.

By the way, GPO results in an offset of Social Security spousal benefits for people who receive a pension from government work on which they paid no Social Security taxes. The offset amount is equal to 2/3rds of the full amount of the government pension. For more information on GPO, refer to the following pamphlet: https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10007.pdf.

Before making any final decisions, you may want to run the maximization software available on this website. It's programmed to consider WEP (Windfall Elimination Provision) and GPO, and should help you decide on the best filing strategy.

Best, Jerry