What Do We Do?

Mar 6 2019 - 8:02am

My wife is receiving a teacher pension and worked her last day with a district which paid SS in 2004. We are over 67 and applied for benefits in Feb. Can she be eligible for spousal benefits from my work record as well as receive her TRS pension. SSA says the GPO does not apply to her, but WEP reduces the benefit from her SS work record so she will receive a small SS benefit. We want her spousal benefits, not her personal work record benefits. What do we do? Thank you!!

Hi,

Since your wife was born prior to January 2 1954, she would have the option of filing just for spousal benefits without filing for her own Social Security retirement benefits. It sounds like her spousal benefits won't be reduced due to the Government Pension Offset (GPO) provision provided that her last day of employment under her TRS pension plan was covered by Social Security and was before July 1 2004 (https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0202608102). However, you must be drawing your benefits in order for your wife to qualify for spousal benefits.

Your wife wouldn't actually receive a higher benefit rate if she files only for spousal benefits, though, as opposed to filing for both spousal benefits and her own Social Security retirement benefits. If she files for both benefits she'll receive the higher of the two rates, and that's true even if the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) reduces her retirement benefit rate. So, the only way that your wife would likely benefit from not filing for her retirement benefits at the same time she files for spousal benefits is if her retirement rate would be higher at age 70 than her spousal rate.

It sounds like you and your wife have a number of different filing options available to you, so you should strongly consider using our software to compare your options so that you can choose the best possible strategy for claiming your benefits.

Best, Jerry