What Happens to the Spousal Benefit After Wife Passes?

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By on April 25, 2014 in Q&A with 0 Comments

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 consulting firm that specializes in federal retirement and career transition issues. He is also affiliated with TSP Safety Net. John retired from federal service after 25 years of progressively more responsible human resources positions. He is the author of Understanding the Federal Retirement Systems and Career Transition: A Guide for Federal Employees, both published by the Federal Management Institute. Federal Career Experts provides pre-retirement seminars for a wide variety of federal agencies.

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