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Christopher B, Esq.
Christopher B, Esq., Attorney
Category: Social Security
Satisfied Customers: 2981
Experience:  associate attorney
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My spouse and I are both receiving our own full SS benefits.

Customer Question

My spouse and I are both receiving our own full SS benefits. We both were at FRA when we received our initial benefits. I also receive a Calpers Industrial Disability Pension guanteed for life. When we went to the local SS Office to apply for my initial SS benefit, we were told that I could not access my spousal benefits using my husbands earning reports because of my Calpers pension. Our personal CPA says this is incorrect. Please explain to me if this is correct and where it is stated in SS Law. I wish to apply for my SS spousal benefits. How do I apply for my SS spousal benefits rights?
***** ***** *****#18
Emeryville, CA 94608
(###) ###-####
or (###) ###-####
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Social Security
Expert:  Christopher B, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

My name is***** and I will be helping you with your question today. This is for informational purposes only and does not establish an attorney client relationship.

You are entitled to receive the benefits you paid into while working as a public employee in California. However, if you are collecting both Social Security and California Public Employees Retirement System benefits, your Social Security benefits may be reduced depending on your individual circumstances.

If you receive a pension from a government job in which you did not pay Social Security taxes, some or all of your Social Security spouse's, widow's or widower's benefit may be offset due to receipt of that pension. This offset is referred to as the Government Pension Offset, or GPO.

The GPO will reduce the amount of your Social Security spouse's, widow's or widower's benefits by two-thirds of the amount of your government pension. For example, if you receive a monthly civil service pension of $600, two-thirds of that, or $400, must be used to offset your Social Security spouse's, widow's or widower's benefits. If you are eligible for a $500 spouse's benefit, you will receive $100 per month from Social Security ($500 - $400 = $100).

Some individuals are exempt from the offset. Generally, your Social Security benefits as a spouse, widow or widower will not be reduced if you:

Are receiving a government pension that is not based on your earnings; or

Are a federal (including Civil Service Offset), state or local government employee whose government pension is based on a job where you were paying Social Security taxes; and

you filed for and were entitled to spouse’s, widow’s or widower’s benefits before April 1, 2004;

your last day of employment (that your pension is based on) is before July 1, 2004; or

you paid Social Security taxes on your earnings during the last 60 months of government service. (Under certain conditions, fewer than 60 months may be required for people whose last day of employment falls after June 30, 2004, and before March 2, 2009.)

Just because the SSA reduced your benefits doesn't mean it wasn't done in error. It is not uncommon for SSA officials to reduce the Social Security benefits of government employees receiving CalPERS benefits by mistake because of a misunderstanding of pension rules. Take your paperwork to your enrollment benefits administrator to review if you have concerns. So yes it is possible that the spousal based social security benefit is reduced because of Calpers but it is wrong that you are not eligible at all.

Please let me know if you have any further questions and please positively rate my answer as it is the only way I will be compensated for my time by the site.

Expert:  Christopher B, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Just checking back in, do you have any further questions?

Expert:  Christopher B, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Any chance for a positive rating?