Would I Get My Husband's Higher Benefit Amount If He Dies Before Me?

Category: 
Jan 18 2019 - 7:41am

Both my husband (73) and I (70) receive social security benefits.Both have been effected by the Windfall Act. His is much higher than mine. If he dies, can I receive his benefits instead of mine?

Hi,

That depends on the type of pension you receive that's causing your own retirement benefit to be affected by the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). If it's a government pension from a U.S. agency (e.g. federal, state, local), then any widow's benefits for which you would otherwise qualify would likely be subject to offset due to the Government Pension Offset (GPO) provision ( https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10007.pdf).

If your husband dies before you, your widow's benefit would be calculated by subtracting your benefit rate from your husband's adjusted benefit amount. His adjusted rate would be the amount that he would have been receiving if his benefits would not have been reduced by WEP. That difference would then be paid to you in addition to your own retirement benefit rate unless your widow's benefits are subject to GPO. If they are, then 2/3rds of the amount of your government pension would be deducted from your widow's benefit. That could reduce your widow's rate to zero if 2/3rds of the amount of your government pension amounts to more than your widow's benefit.

Best, Jerry