Q: My Social Security benefits are reduced because I receive a government pension. I started benefits at age 70. My wife worked in a private sector job and started Social Security at 66. If I pass on would her Social Security survivors benefit based on my account be reduced because of my government pension? She is not eligible for benefits from my pension. My current benefit is $1,320.00 versus about $1,842.00 without the penalty.
A: Your Social Security benefits are affected by the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). It affects people who have worked in jobs covered by Social Security and other jobs in which Social Security taxes were not taken out of your pay — like some government jobs, or for employers in other countries. The good news is that the WEP does not apply to survivors benefits, and because your wife worked in a private sector job that was covered by Social Security, she's not affected by the Government Pension Offset (GPO) — a similar provision that reduces spouses and survivor benefits.
Your wife's survivors benefit would not be reduced and she would receive the $1,842 you would have received had your benefits not been reduced due to the WEP. (Benefits of younger widows or widowers, however, could be subject to reductions for taking benefits prior to full retirement age, or for excess earnings if still working prior to full retirement age.) For more information on survivors benefits, visit www.SocialSecurity.gov. Learn more about the Windfall Elimination Provision here. If you receive a pension for work not covered by Social Security, learn how your spouse or survivors benefits may be affected by the Government Pension Offset here.