Will The Windfall Elimination Provision Prevent Me From Claiming Benefits On My Spouse's Record?

Sep 23 2019 - 4:34pm

Hi Larry, I am considering filing for SS and having my wife file but suspend. She would claim her spousal benefit until she is 70, when she will file for her own benefits. I worked for the State of Alaska for 26 years. Will the Windfall elimination prevent me from claiming spousal benefits if she dies before me? And will my state employment result in other complications with SS benefits? My DOB is 12-23-52; her's is 8-17-51. Thanks! Paul

Hi Paul,

First and foremost, if your wife intends to file a restricted application for just spousal benefits while letting her own rate grow until age 70, she should NOT file for and suspend her own Social Security retirement benefits. Instead, she would simply delay applying for her own Social Security retirement benefits until she wants to start drawing her own benefits. Also, your wife can only file for spousal benefits if you are drawing your Social Security retirement benefits.

If you didn't pay Social Security taxes while working for the State of Alaska and you receive a pension based on that work, then your own Social Security retirement benefits will likely be subject to the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). That would result in the use of a less generous benefit computation formula to calculate your benefit rate (https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10045.pdf). That could also reduce the amount that your wife would receive as a spouse on your record, since her spousal rate would be based on half of your primary insurance amount (PIA).

If you file for benefits on your wife's record and you receive a state pension based on your work where you were exempt from Social Security taxes, then any spousal or survivor benefits for which you would otherwise qualify would likely be offset by 2/3rds of the amount of your state pension. That's due to the Government Pension Offset (GPO) provision, though, not WEP. The WEP provision only affects Social Security retirement and disability benefits, not spousal or survivor benefits.

Our software (https://maximizemysocialsecurity.com/purchase) is fully programmed to handle computations involving both the WEP and GPO provisions, so you and your wife should strongly consider using our software to explore and compare your various options so that you can choose the best possible strategy for claiming your benefits.

Best, Jerry