Will WEP Nullify My Survivor Benefit If My Husband Dies Before Me?

Nov 4 2018 - 6:01pm

I worked for the Mass Trial Court and receive a pension and minimal SS due to WEP. My husband worked in private sector and has a pension from the company and private investments. If he passes first am I entitled to collect his SS benefits? Or does the WEP nullify that?


No, the WEP (Windfall Elimination Provision) wouldn't prevent you from receiving survivor benefits, but the Government Pension Offset (GPO) provision might. WEP only affects retirement or disability benefits payable based on a person's own work record, whereas the GPO provision only affects benefits payable based on a spouse or former spouse's work record.

It sounds like the GPO provision would likely cause your widow's benefits to be offset by 2/3rds of the amount of your state pension, assuming that you didn't pay Social Security taxes on the earnings on which your state pension is based. So, depending on the relative amounts of your state pension and your widow's rate, the widow's benefit could be either partially reduced or reduced to zero. There are exceptions to the GPO provision, but it doesn't sound like you'd meet any of the exceptions. For more information about GPO and it's exceptions, refer to the following Social Security publication: https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10007.pdf.

Best, Jerry