Can I Draw Spousal Benefits Until I Start Making Withdrawals From My 401(a) Plan?

Sep 16 2018 - 5:34pm

My wife has 40+ quarter credits, I do not. I have a 401(a) from municipal government service, which due to the GPO, will eliminate any spousal retirement benefit for me. I believe, the 401(a) does not require withdrawals until the year I reach 70 1/2, which will be 2027.

My wife will turn 70 in September 2023. If she begins her retirement benefit at 70, may I receive the full spousal retirement benefit (no GPO effect) beginning in September 2023 through the end of 2027 if I do not withdraw funds from my 401(a) until December 2027? 50 or 51 months of spousal retirement benefit with no GPO.

I also have a 457 deferred compensation (traditional and Roth) account from my municipal employment and we each have IRAs (traditional and Roth). Do any of those factor into this equation?

Thank you

P.S. just finished the updated Get What's Yours and found it very helpful.


Government Pension Offset (GPO) doesn't apply until you actually start drawing a pension based on work and earnings that were exempt from Social Security taxes. Therefore, it sounds like you could be paid spousal benefits at least until you start making withdrawals from your employer plan(s). Of course, though, your wife must be drawing her benefits in order for you to qualify for spousal benefits.

A 457 plan could cause GPO offset depending on the variables involved (e.g. whether or not employer contributions are involved, whether or not the plan is the employee's primary retirement plan), but again, offset wouldn't apply until you start making withdrawals from the plan(

GPO is a complex issue, and variables such as those noted above can be critical in determining whether or not GPO applies, and if so how and when it applies. Most Social Security offices have regional precedent files for the employer plans in their area, so you may want to check with a nearby office to see if they can give you a more definite answer.

Best, Jerry