What Effect Does A Civil Service Pension Have On Benefits?

Jan 30 2017 - 4:45am

Both my husband and I are retired civil service. My husband has been on SS for about 4yrs. I will be 65 in Mar of this yr. 2017 and am not on SS. Can I claim SS under my husband next Mar 2018 when I am 66yrs and then claim my own SS at age 70 in 2022? Or claim my own SS at age 66 and half my husband's at age 70? Do you have info for me to read when both of spouses are retired civil service in order for me to make the best choice of how and when to take SS benefits? Every time I ask SS what my benefits would be at age 66 I get different numbers which vary by $200-300/month at age 66. Last week I was told my benefit would be $502/month at 65 and $701/month at 70. The time before when I asked what my benefit would be about $300 @ age 66 and about $400 @ age 70...


Assuming that your civil service earnings were exempt from Social Security taxes, you will likely be affected by both the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO). WEP affects benefits payable on your own Social Security record, while GPO affects spousal and widow(er)'s benefits.

WEP affects the rate of benefits payable on your own record, but never reduces the rate payable to zero (https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10045.pdf). So, if you're insured for Social Security benefits on your own record, you will be eligible for some benefits even though the rate payable will likely be reduced.

GPO causes spousal or widow's benefits to be reduced by 2/3rds of the amount of your non-covered government pension, and can reduce the rate payable to zero (https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10007.pdf). So, if your civil service work was exempt from Social Security taxes and 2/3rds of your pension amount is more than your potential Social Security spousal benefit, you wouldn't be able to receive any spousal benefits.

The maximization software available on this website is programmed to consider the effects of both WEP and GPO, so you can use it to determine your potential benefit rates as well as your best filing strategy.

Best, Jerry