Do You Have Any Idea How This Can Happen?

Category: 
Jul 24 2019 - 9:34am

Hi Larry. I just spoke to my neighbor who lost her husband approx 15 years ago. It can to my attention that she is not getting the much needed social security benefit of her deceased spouse. According to her she was denied her because she made too much money and she was a government employee. And she was denied spousal (widow) benefits of her deceased husband because he worked for the city of Detroit (Mich). I never heard of anything like this. He paid into social security for years! Is she entitled. Any idea how this can happen?

Hi,

It sounds like your neighbor's issue is the Government Pension Offset (GPO) provision. If a person receives a pension based on work for a governmental employer (e.g. federal, state, local) where their earnings were exempt from Social Security taxes, then any Social Security spousal or widow's benefits for which the person would otherwise qualify would be offset by 2/3rds of the amount of their government pension.

Therefore, if your neighbor receives a government pension as described above and the amount of that pension is at least 1.5 times the amount of her potential widow's benefit, then her widow's benefits would be fully offset to zero unless she meets an exception to GPO (https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10007.pdf).

Best, Jerry