Would My Husband's Survivor Benefits Be Reduced Because Of WEP?

Nov 21 2019 - 5:15pm

According to the estimates we have received from the SSA, my SS benefit is greater than my husband's and the difference is likely to grow when the Windfall Exemption Provision (WEP) is applied to his benefit. He worked for a significant number of years as a teacher in Texas and did not pay into Social Security during that time. However, he has 21 years of work with "substantial earnings" outside of Texas when he did pay into Social Security. It is my understanding that his SS retirement benefit will be reduced to some degree by the WEP. However, if I die first, would his spousal death benefit also be reduced? Finally, we have had no success getting the SSA to estimate what his benefit will be after the WEP is applied. Any advice on how to pry that information from them?

Hi,

The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) wouldn't have any effect on survivor benefits that your husband may qualify for in the event of your death, however, it sounds like there's a good chance that the Government Pension Offset (GPO) provision would. GPO can cause any spousal or widow(er) benefits that a person qualifies for to be fully or partially offset if they also receive a pension based on their work for a U.S. governmental agency (e.g. federal, state, local, municipal, county) where their earnings were exempt from Social Security taxes (https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10007.pdf). The amount of offset applied to the person's Social Security spousal or widow(er) benefit is equal to 2/3rds of the gross amount of their government pension.

Our software (https://maximizemysocialsecurity.com/purchase) is fully programmed to handle computations involving the WEP and GPO provisions, so you and your husband may want to strongly consider using the software to help you with your Social Security planning.

Best, Jerry