What Claim Do I Have On My Wife's Social Security?

May 12 2020 - 10:36am

I am retired fed (CSRS) 75 yrs old, I claimed ss at 62 with the offset for feds so I get reduced payment, enough to cover medicare based on part time work since retiring, my wife is 65 not retired and not a fed, what claim if any do I have on her ss , as her spouse.

Hi,

In the first place, your wife would have to be drawing her benefits in order for you to potentially qualify for spousal benefits. When your wife does claim her benefits, your unreduced spousal rate (i.e. the amount payable if you are full retirement age (FRA) or older) would be calculated by subtracting your primary insurance amount (PIA) from 50% of your wife's PIA. A person's PIA is equal to the amount of their Social Security retirement benefit if they start drawing at FRA.

Assuming that 50% of your wife's PIA is higher than your PIA, though, it sounds like any spousal amount that you'd otherwise qualify for would be offset by 2/3rds of the amount of your CSRS pension. That's because of the Government Pension Offset (GPO) provision (https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10007.pdf). Therefore, you'll likely only be able to collect spousal benefits if 2/3rds of your CSRS pension is less than your spousal rate.

If your wife dies before you, your widower's benefit rate would be equal the difference between your benefit rate and your wife's full benefit rate. But, survivor benefits are also subject to GPO, so you could probably only receive survivor benefits if 2/3rds of your CSRS pension is less than your widower rate.

Best, Jerry