What Happens to the Spousal Benefit After Wife Passes?

April 25, 2014 5:48 PM
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Q: If a wife passes no later than 12-31-14, does her husband continue to receive a spousal benefit, after she passes? Or does the husband receive a “pop-up” benefit that the wife received up to the time of her passing? Also, since the husband plans to work to age 70, as a CSRS federal employee, can you explain the process of receiving a spousal benefit from 66 to wife’s passing, then from after wife’s passing, lets say, 67 to 70, while working , what happens to the husband’s spousal benefit, and what happens to the husband’s spousal benefit, after he retires at age 70? ( I guess I’m referring to “WEP” & “GPO”)

A: The husband will receive survivor benefit (100% to full retirement age), rather than spousal benefit (50% at full retirement age). When you apply, make absolutely sure that SSA understands you are restricting your application to spousal benefits only.  I would make an appointment and apply at an SSA office, rather than trusting the online application system.  When you retire, the GPO will wipe out any spousal or survivor benefit to which you are entitled.  If you have 40 or more credits when you retire, apply for your own benefit which will be reduced, but not eliminated, by the WEP.

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John Grobe is President of Federal Career Experts, a firm that provides pre-retirement training and seminars to a wide variety of federal agencies. FCE’s instructors are all retired federal retirement specialists who educate class participants on the ins and outs of federal retirement and benefits; there is never an attempt to influence participants to invest a certain way, or to purchase any financial products. John and FCE specialize in retirement for special category employees, such as law enforcement officers.

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