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My Social Security benefit is reduced because I collect a government pension. Will my spouse's survivor benefits be reduced too?

No, your government pension will not affect your spouse's survivor benefits.

The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) can reduce Social Security retirement benefits for workers who also have pensions from employment where they did not pay Social Security taxes (as is the case, for example, with some state and local government jobs, and for federal civil servants such as postal workers who were hired before 1984). The family benefit payable to the spouse of a retired worker subject to the WEP is also reduced, but only while that worker is alive.

When the worker dies, the widow's or widower's survivor benefit is based on the deceased's benefit as determined by the standard Social Security formula, without any reduction for the WEP. The survivor benefit will be between 71.5 percent and 100 percent of the late worker's retirement payment, depending on the surviving spouse's age when he or she claims it.

However, if the surviving spouse draws a pension based on their own earnings from a government job where they did not pay into Social Security, their survivor benefits could be affected by another regulation, the Government Pension Offset (GPO). This rule reduces Social Security spousal or survivor benefits by two-thirds of the amount of the government pension received.

Keep in mind

Neither the WEP nor the GPO applies if your government pension is from a job in which you did pay into Social Security, as have federal employees hired since 1984. Call the Social Security Administration at 800-772-1213 if you have questions about whether either rule affects your benefits.

Reviewed August 4, 2021