Where Is The Truth?

Nov 18 2018 - 7:11am

Hello, good evening.
My wife is 65 years of age and applying for spousal benefits on hers and my record. She is receiving pension in Poland. Before SS worker told us she is going to get about 50% of my benefits and WEP do not apply to this.
I would like to know where is the truth, because right now SS worker took her application and told us she will be penalized for receiving foreign pension. She got about 20 years of work on her record.

Hi,

There are 2 different Social Security provisions that can affect the benefit rates of people who receive pensions based on work where their wages were exempt from U.S. Social Security taxes. One is the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP), which only affects Social Security retirement or disability benefits based on a person's own earnings history. The other is the Government Pension Offset (GPO) provision, which only affects Social Security benefits payable on a spouse or ex-spouse's earnings history.

If your wife is receiving a pension based on her work in Poland, it sounds like her Social Security retirement benefits would likely be affected by WEP (https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10045.pdf). How much of an effect it would have depends on a number of factors, but the reduction in your wife's Social Security retirement benefit rate shouldn't exceed half of the amount of her Polish pension.

However, foreign pensions are not classified as government pensions for purposes of the GPO provision. Therefore, if your wife qualifies for spousal benefits on your Social Security record, those benefits will not be reduced by either GPO or WEP. So, if 50% of your full retirement age rate, or primary insurance amount (PIA), is higher than your wife's own PIA, she should be able to receive a full 50% of your PIA if she waits until her full retirement age to file for her spousal benefits. She couldn't get both her own Social Security retirement benefits and a full spousal benefit, though, just the higher of the two.

Our software is programmed to handle cases involving both WEP or GPO, so your wife should strongly consider using our software to explore her options and determine her best filing strategy.

Best, Jerry