Will The Portion Of My Government Pension That's Based On My Military Sevice Count For GPO?

Jul 5 2018 - 2:47pm

I am considering filing for my spousal benefit when I turn 66 years of age in 2019. I am subject to the Government Pension Offset (GPO). I have been doing research and am wondering if the following Social Security paragraph (404.408a (d) (ii)) applies to my situation. I am currently receiving a pension from a state government. I have 12 years of service credit that are used to calculate my monthly pension from the state. Of those total 12 years, I worked 7 years and purchased 5 years of military service credit. Instead of calculating my GPO reduction using the entire amount of my state pension, I was hoping that "...(ii) If you earned part of your pension based on employment other than Federal, State, or local government employment, we will only use the part of your pension earned in government employment to compute the GPO." would apply to me. I am hoping that the GPO reduction would be calculated using (2/3)*(7/12s) of the pension instead of the full 2/3s reduction. This paragraph is found in the Document Citation 80 FR 3408, page 34048-34051, final rule effective on July 15, 2015 as part of the "Sixty-Month period of Employment Requirement for Government Pension Offset Exemption". Before I found this reference, I asked at the local SS office and was told there are no exceptions. In the course of my research, I found this reference. Do you think purchased military time could/would be excluded from the GPO reduction of my spousal benefit?

Hi,

I'm honestly not sure. The exception that you cite refers to a government pension based on a combination of governmental and non-governmental employment. And, in section C.2 of the following reference from Social Security's operations manual, non-governmental work is further defined as private employment: https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0202608400#c2.

Therefore, my thinking is that since your military service was not private employment, it may not excludable from counting when calculating the government pension offset (GPO) of your spousal benefit rate. On the other hand, military pensions themselves don't result in GPO because military pay is subject to Social Security taxes. I never encountered a circumstance like yours during the time I worked for Social Security, so I'm not sure how they would rule in your case. My suggestion would be to make your best case in writing at the time you file your claim for spousal benefits, and if Social Security's ruling is unfavorable you could then consider pursuing an appeal.

Best, Jerry