A short time ago, FedSmith posted two articles that I wrote about the Windfall Elimination Penalty (WEP). One article was about the penalty in general, and one was about how it affected CSRS Offset employees/retirees. In this article, we will take a look at the Government Pension Offset (GPO).
Like the WEP, the GPO affects anyone who is receiving a pension from work not covered by Social Security. That would be any one who is CSRS, CSRS Offset, or a FERS employee who transferred from CSRS. The good news for CSRS Offset or FERS transferees is that they become exempt from the GPO after working five years under CSRS Offset or FERS. In fact, folks who transferred to FERS during the first open season were immediately exempt from the GPO.
Unlike the WEP, which reduces the Social Security you have earned on your own account, the GPO reduces the Social Security to which you are entitled on the account of another (i.e., spousal or survivor benefits). Actually, reduces is far too mild a word. In almost every situation the GPO eliminates any spousal or survivor benefit to which you might be entitled.
The Social Security spousal or survivor benefit to which you are entitled through a living or deceased spouse is reduced $2 for every $3 of your CSRS pension. Your benefit is likely to be totally eliminated due the fact that your CSRS pension is likely to be significantly greater than any spousal benefit (max = 50% of your spouse’s SS) or survivor benefit (max = 100% of your deceased spouse’s SS).