What Calculations Are Involved In Determining How WEP Will Affect My Wife's Benefits From My Record?

Mar 5 2019 - 4:00pm

My wife, (59now),has enough credits to qualify for soc. Sec. & is now eligible to draw retirement benefits from teacher retirement. She will definitely draw the teacher retirement benefits. I’m 62 now & have not filed for soc. Sec. benefits, which will be my only retirement benefit. My soc. Sec. full retirement benefit is more that twice what my wife’s is. Her teacher retirement benefit is more than twice my soc. Sec. benefit. What are the calculations &/or social securety tables to estimate her benefits when allowing for WEP,while claiming Soc. Sec. Spousal Benefits on my Soc. Sec. record. We would like to calculate benefits when plugging in age of filing for both us at 62,65 & 70 combinations.
Also, are there spousal benefits available for me from her teacher retirement?

Hi,

The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) will only potentially apply to your wife's own Social Security retirement benefits, not her potential spousal benefits. However, if she does qualify for spousal benefits from your record it sounds like her spousal benefits would be fully offset (i.e. reduced to zero) if she's also receiving her teacher's pension. That's because of the Government Pension Offset (GPO) provision, which can reduce the amount of spousal or widow's benefits by 2/3rds of the amount of pensions that a person receives that's based on their own work which was exempt from Social Security taxes. The WEP provision never reduces a person's Social Security retirement benefit to zero, though, so it sounds like your wife should be able to receive at least some Social Security benefits based on her own work record.

The formula used to calculate benefits involving WEP are too complex to go through in this forum, however, if you're interested the computational steps are covered in the following reference from Social Security's operations manual: https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0300605369.

I have no idea whether or not you could qualify for spousal benefits from your wife's teacher's pension plan, but it wouldn't affect your Social Security benefits if you did. You and your wife may want to strongly consider using our software calculate your projected benefit rates and to explore and compare your various options for claiming your benefits. The software is fully capable of handling cases involving both the WEP and GPO provisions.

Best, Jerry