I am a widow and a teacher with a pension. Am I entitled to any Social Security?

Published: August 1, 2022

Full question: I am 57, at 45 became a widow. I was told I could receive benefits at 60. Problem is I am a teacher in public school system. I called Social Security and they said I am not entitled to anything because my estimated pension monthly is more than my husband monthly Social. Is that right? I can see it reducing a bit, because I can’t get 100% of both, but zero? Please tell me that this is wrong?

Hi there,

I am assuming that you have NOT worked for another employer where your earnings were subject to Social Security contributions and therefore you DO NOT qualify for Social Security retirement benefits.

The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) pension rule would apply to your retirement benefit if this were the case. The pension rule that does apply to you is the Government Pension Offset, GPO, which affects survivor benefits.

Two-thirds of your pension amount would be subtracted from a survivor benefit you are entitled to. For instance, if you are entitled to a $2,000/month survivor benefit and your pension is $3,000/month, you would not receive any of the survivor benefit since $2,000 (2/3 x 3000) subtracted from $2,000 is $0. If the pension was $2,400, then $1,600 (2/3 x 2400) would be subtracted from the $2,000 survivor benefit and you would receive $400.

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Take care,

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