Social Security Widows/Widowers and the Government Pension Offset

By February 19, 2021 No Comments

If you recently lost your spouse and are receiving a retirement or disability pension from a federal, state, or local government based on your own work for which you didn’t pay Social Security taxes, the SSA may reduce your Social Security spouse’s, widow’s or widower’s benefits. This post outlines a few of the things those who may be looking to receive those benefits need to know.

The Social Security Reduction Widows and Widowers Can Expect

The SSA will reduce your Social Security benefits by 2/3 of your government pension. If 2/3 of your government pension is more than your Social Security benefit, it’s possible your benefit amount could be reduced to zero. For those who take a government pension annuity as a lump-sum, the SSA will calculate the reduction using a monthly benefit formula. You may be required to submit additional documentation to the SSA to show the lump-sum amount.

When Your Social Security Benefits Won’t Be Reduced

The SSA details a variety of these circumstances here, and many of them pertain to specific dates or uncommon pension situations.

The Windfall Elimination Provision

The Windfall Elimination Provision can affect how your retirement or disability benefit is calculated. If you work for an employer who doesn’t withhold Social Security taxes from your salary, such as a government agency or an employer in another country, any retirement or disability pension you get from that work can reduce your Social Security benefits. The SSA details this here.

As an additional note, if you’re receiving a pension from a private employer that withheld Social Security taxes from your paychecks, that pension will not affect your Social Security benefits.


Social Security has specific provisions and applications set aside for widows and widowers. They are also entitled to receive benefits, but those working in the public sector likely follow a different set of calculations. A trusted Social Security claims attorney can help advise about the best set of benefits to take and can help with additional Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income issues for those who are eligible as well. Call Drew L. Johnson, P.C. today at (541434-6466 to schedule a free consultation.