Federal Employees News Digest

Federal Benefits Q&A

Question: My wife is retired CSRS and receives a federal pension. I am nearing retirement under FERS and will be eligible for Social Security. Due to the government pension offset, my wife will not receive any spousal benefit from my Social Security. My question is, if my wife goes back to work and obtains the 40 quarters required, does that qualify her for Social Security?

Answer: As a CSRS annuitant, the only way your wife will qualify for a Social Security retirement benefit is for her to earn a minimum of 40 credits of Social Security. With just 40 credits, her retirement benefit will be small, and be further reduced because of the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). The amount of her benefit will certainly be smaller than half of your Social Security retirement benefit. But she will not be able to collect on half of your retirement benefit or all of your retirement benefit if you predecease her because of the Government Pension Offset (GPO).

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