Would My Wife's Widow's Benefits Be Subject To The Government Pension Offset Provision?

Jul 13 2019 - 2:10pm

Hi Larry,
My wife is receiving social security reduced by Windfall Elimination provision (WEP) because she taught for 20 years in a state that had its own retirement system for employees. In looking at future scenarios, it appears she would be subject to Government Offset Provision on widow's benefits based on my social security. Is that correct? If so, doesn't that seem a bit unfair to penalize benefits based on my earnings record?

Hi,

Yes, since your wife's pension is from a governmental agency, the Government Pension Offset (GPO) provision would likely cause any widow's benefits for which your wife would qualify to be offset by 2/3rds of the amount of her state pension.

Whether or not the GPO provision is fair is the subject of much debate, but the provision was passed into the Social Security law by Congress, and only Congress has the authority to change the law. For an explanation of the reasoning used by Congress in passing the GPO provision, refer to the following Social Security publication: https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10007.pdf.

Best, Jerry