Ask Bob: Will the Government Pension Offset Reduce My Social Security Survivors Benefit?

Brian Vosberg, president of Vosberg & Associates, explains how the GPO affects a Retirement Daily reader’s Social Security survivors benefit.
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Question

I am a retired postal worker. My wife recently passed away. She received much more in monthly Social Security than I did. Could you possibly give me the formula so that I may figure out if I would possibly get a raise in my Social Security as a result of her death?

Answer

With the passing of your wife you are entitled to survivors benefits, says Brian Vosberg, president of Vosberg & Associates and author of The Complete Retiree's Guide to Social Security: Powerful Strategies to Maximize Retirement Benefits and Get the Most From Your Money.

“However, since you are receiving a pension in which you didn't pay into Social Security, the survivors benefits are subject to the Government Pension Offset or GPO,” says Vosberg.

The GPO will reduce your survivors benefits by two-thirds of your government pension.

“For example, if your government pension is $900 then your survivor benefits will be reduced by $600. If the survivors benefits subject to the GPO is higher than what you are currently collecting, then you are entitled to a raise,” says Vosberg.

There are some exceptions to when the GPO does not apply, says Vosberg.

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Question

I am a retired postal worker. My wife recently passed away. She received much more in monthly Social Security than I did. Could you possibly give me the formula so that I may figure out if I would possibly get a raise in my Social Security as a result of her death?

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