How does a teaching pension impact Social Security survivor benefits?Published: August 1, 2022
Full question: My mom (68 years old) is receiving survivor benefits and is in the process of selecting an annuity option from TRS. She doesn’t have 40 credits and paid into TRS only. We’ve been prepping and searching for answers on IF and how a partial lump-sum option affects the government pension offset, GPO. Do you know if taking a PLSO is also calculated into the GPO for survivor benefits? Or, does social security only use the monthly TRS payment amount to calculate the 2/3rds GPO? I have not found concrete information for partial lump sum plus monthly payments. About 5 years ago, we did find a QA on the SS website which said that PLSOs are not calculated into the GPO, but this link has been removed. I’m also receiving conflicting info from TRS, and of course, they direct me back to SS. Once my mom receives her first payment from TRS we are supposed to ask TRS to complete a form called TRS562 for social security. A TRS representative said that the form only asks for the monthly annuity amount, the date of retirement, when she qualified for retirement, years of service, and if she’s disabled (which she is not). Another TRS representative said that they include the PLSO info at the bottom of the TRS562 form. I can’t seem to find this info written anywhere and it is vital to her decision. Thank you for your help.
If a retiree is or will be collecting a pension that was from work where Social Security tax was not withheld, then that is considered a non-covered pension and it can reduce or eliminate any Social Security benefits that the retiree is entitled to.
The Windfall Elimination Provision, WEP rule impacts one’s own retirement benefit and the Government Pension Offset, GPO rule impacts spousal and survivor benefits.
If the pension is taken as a lump sum, rather than a monthly amount, the SSA uses a formula to convert that to a monthly amount to calculate the GPO reduction.
As for partial lump sum payment options, I highly recommend that you seek out a qualified SSA representative manager ahead of time, by phone or in person, to verify how they are handled. You do not want your mom to be put in a situation where her pension income increases, and then Social Security determines that they have overpaid her. It is better to be very proactive. You can find more information GPO information here.
Best of luck,