Why Did My Husband's Benefit Stop?

Feb 4 2017 - 6:45am

My husband is receiving Federal Civil Service Retirement pension. We applied for and he was granted spousal benefits based on my Social Security earnings beginning Nov 2014. We knew he was not eligible for his own SS benefits due to the Windfall Elimination Provision. We are currently living out of the country and suddenly his benefit has been stopped stating he is not eligible due the this provision. We disclosed his status when applying and were told he was still eligible for spousal benefits. Can you explain the decision based on this information. I intend to file an appeal but can't find any specific data relating to spousal benefits and this provision.

Hi,

The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) does not affect spousal benefits. However, there is a Government Pension Offset (GPO) provision that can cause 2/3rds of the amount of a person's non-covered government pension to be withheld from any Social Security spousal or widow(er)'s benefits to which they are entitled.

It doesn't sound like your husband would meet any of the exceptions to GPO (https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10007.pdf), so if your husband's civil service pension is more than 1.5 times the amount of his spousal benefit, no spousal benefit would be payable. If he was previously receiving spousal benefits, it must have been a mistake by Social Security, unless he wasn't yet receiving the civil service pension when he filed for the spousal benefits.

Best, Jerry