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Can I collect my own government pension and Social Security on my spouse’s record?

Yes, although a Social Security rule called the Government Pension Offset (GPO) will reduce your spousal benefits if your pension is from a “non-covered” government job in which you did not have Social Security taxes withheld from your paycheck

Not all government jobs are affected by the GPO. Federal employees hired since 1984 pay Social Security taxes (previously they did not). Some state and local government employees are covered by Social Security, some only by public-sector pension plans and some by both.

The GPO reduces the Social Security benefit you can receive as a spouse, widow or widower by two-thirds of the amount of your government pension. For instance, if that pension pays you $1,200 a month, your Social Security spousal or survivor benefit would be reduced by $800. If the Social Security payment is $800 or less, the GPO would reduce it to zero.

Keep in mind

  • The Government Pension Offset affects only your Social Security spousal or survivor benefit. If you are collecting Social Security retirement benefits and a non-covered government pension, you may be subject to the Windfall Elimination Provision.
  • The GPO applies only to your government pension. If you are collecting a deceased spouse’s government pension, it does not affect your Social Security payments.

Published October 10, 2018

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