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Ask Stephanie O Joy, Esq Your Own Question
Stephanie O Joy, Esq
Stephanie O Joy, Esq, Soc. Sec. Attorney
Category: Social Security
Satisfied Customers: 13568
Experience:  22+ years legal exp. - 12+ years owning/operating her own SSD Law practice.
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My husbands social security was earned when he was in the

Customer Question

my husbands social security was earned when he was in the military service. he passed in Oct 14 and I'm being told that I'm not entitled to spouse's survivors benefits because I/we were civilian federal employments. But that's not what the law says. PLease clarify.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Social Security
Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 1 year ago.
Do you get a government pension from a job that you didn't pay SS taxes to?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
but I also worked in the private sector and I do get social security but it's cut because of the windfall tax. My husband's social security was $1079 after taxes etc, and mine is $356. He was in the Air Force in 1955? and the Army 1956 thru 1982.
Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 1 year ago.
OK, your OWN SS benefit it limited by the WEP (Windfall Elimination Provision). That provision ensures that your SS % rate is the same that used for people who earned the same amount as you over their lifetime - previously, your reported lifetime earnings that the SSA was aware of failed to include all of your income (namely,that part you earned and didn't pay SS taxes on). The total amount is important because that amount determines if you were a poor lifetime earning (who should get a 'welfare' % rate applied to average lifetime monthly earnings, to get your end SS benefit amount) or a normal earner. Poor earners may be as high as a 55% figure applied to get them their benefits (so it won't be too low) while normal/high earners will get far less, as low as 25%). Because you were not a poor earner over your life after all, your estimate was based on wrong %, it gave you the welfare bonus, and so WEP recalculated it to reflect your true earnings and appropriate earned (not welfare) rate.On the other hand, it is the GPO which effects your survivor SS benefit. GPO is what prevents 2 government pensions: our OWN government retirement PLUS a dependent benefit on a spouse's work record. The rule of no double dipping applies to ALL people, even those only on SS. It says that if we have our own SS benefit, but are also otherwise eligible for a spousal or survivor benefit from our spouse's SS, we can't take both, we can only take one (obviously ultimately we take the higher one). GPO causes that rule to be applied to other government pensions as well, and it does so by saying: If you have a government pension, and you are also otherwise eligible for a spousal benefit, you can't take both in full. Rather, your SS spousal amount (that you didn't earn) will be reduced by a figure equal to 2/3 of your government pension. Thus, if you have a big government pension, it is less likely that you will have any remaining SS spousal benefit. If you have a lower government pension, it is more likely you get it topped off with a piece of SS spousal. So, the 2/3 rule is GPO and ONLY applies to a spousal benefit, NOT your own SS benefit. On the other hand, the WEP will reduced your OWN benefit, but it never eliminates it altogether.So, in this case, your ability to collect a survivor benefit is effected by your level of "dependency" on that (objectively defined) - the more "other" government retirement you have, making you less dependant (a survivor Ss benefit is a dependent benefit), the less you will get of Ss survivor benefit based on the work of ther other spouse. Your potential SS survivor benefit is reduced by 2/3 X your own government retirement benefit, which can result in a zero SS survivor benefit. This happens routinely with married people and SS survivor benefits, due to the prohibition on collecting the benefits meant for 2 people - we each only get one and we can take the largest amount benefit.
Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 1 year ago.
I hope this helps! My goal is to provide you with excellent and accurate service – if you feel you have gottenanything less, please reply back, I amhappy to address follow-up questions. Kindly rate me "excellent"when you are done. I look forward to assisting you in the future, should you have legal questions. Be sure to start future posts with "To ***** Esq., ONLY" if you want me to specifically answer it. Sincerely, ***** ***** Joy, Esq.Your online SS legal resource!
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you and yes I will rate you excellent, your replies were prompt and you explained it so much better than the case worker at Social Security office.
Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 1 year ago.
Thank you, Pat. Please don't forget to rate with the 5 stars :)