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Tucson Social Security Disability Blog

Can I Collect Social Security Retirement Benefits On My Spouse's Earnings If I Have A Public Pension?

Posted by John Kuhnlein | Jun 14, 2018 | 0 Comments

I learned something new this week. A gentleman called to say that Social Security would not pay him any benefits based on his late wife's earning record.  The caller had worked for the city government and had not paid Social Security taxes while doing so. His late wife, however, had paid into Social Security during her lifetime.  

An Exception To The Rule

Normally, a person can collect benefits based on the earnings record of his spouse. This requires that the marriage lasted at least

Naturally, It Has To Be Complicated

ten years. But, when that person is subject to the Government Pension Offset  (GPO), things change.  In this case, the man who called was subject to GPO because he had not paid Social Security taxes.  He could not understand why he could not still collect on his late wife's earnings despite this.  I did not know the answer, either.

Affects Spouses, Too

It turns out that GPO also applies to a spouse's earnings. Social Security claims they do this in order to treat those with government pensions and those without the same way.  Under GPO, Social Security offsets the spouses benefit against what the worker would

I Told You Not To Work For The Gummint

be entitled to.  If the pension is higher than the spouse's Social Security benefit, Social Security will pay nothing.

Keep GPO In Mind When Planning Retirement

As always, Social Security has a formula for what, if anything, a person can claim under GPO. For this reason, it is important to still apply for Social Security retirement benefits. But, if one or both spouses are getting a government pension, they will want to keep GPO in mind when making financial plans.

If you have earned a government pension, speak to your financial advisor to see what is best for you.

About the Author

John Kuhnlein

Since 1992, I have been helping the people of Southern Arizona get the benefits they are due. Before devoting all my efforts to assisting people with Social Security disability claims, I also handled such complex lawsuits as medical malpractice and products liability. I brought to my Social Security cases all the skills and attention to detail that I developed in the courtroom. I approach each Social Security disability case as if it were a million-dollar lawsuit. For the people trying to get Social Security benefits, their claim is every bit as important. Because I have personally handled so many Social Security cases, I have refined the skills I need to win your case for you. I have helped people win cases for every kind of ailment from arthritis to valley fever. At present, I am focused on helping those persons with neurological and orthopedic disorders. Because claims for people over age fifty bring additional complications, I particularly seek out those cases to work on. I regularly write about back and spine conditions on my blog. I actively seek out the latest information about orthopedic and neurological disorders to ensure I can represent my clients as effectively as possible. Because of my current focus, I regret that I am not able to take any cases for mental disorders. If you are over age fifty and suffer from any orthopedic or neurological disorder, please contact me at once.


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John Kuhnlein has been assisting people with Social Security disability claims for the past 25+ years.

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