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What is Government Pension Offset (GPO)?

If you expect to get a pension for work that Social Security does not cover, such as government or foreign employment, any Social Security benefits that qualify to receive on your spouse’s record could be reduced proportionately.

The title of this benefit reduction is Government Pension Offset or GPO. Some people are excluded from the GPO.

Information You Need to Calculate Your Benefits If You Are Affected by the GPO

To estimate your future spouse’s, widow’s, or widower’s benefits according to GPO, you’ll need two things:

  • The estimated “gross” monthly amount of your pension from your government job not covered by Social Security.
  • The estimated monthly amount of your Social Security benefit as a spouse, widow, or widower before the effect of GPO.

If you will be eligible for spouse’s benefits and have access to your spouse’s estimate:

  • Find the estimated total of the retirement benefit your spouse would qualify to receive at full retirement age. If your spouse already gets Social Security benefits, ask them what their benefit would be if it began at their full retirement age.
  • Divide this amount in half and round down to the nearest dollar. This is your estimated spouse’s benefit if you retire at full retirement age.

If you will qualify for Social Security retirement benefits based on your own earnings records:

  • Along with a larger benefit based on your spouse’s earnings record, it will affect your benefits as a spouse, widow, or widower.

To create a more precise estimate of how much the government pension you will earn for work that Social Security doesn’t cover will influence the portion of your benefit dependent on your spouse’s work:

  • Enter the estimated “gross” monthly amount of the government pension (in today’s dollars) you will receive for work not covered by Social Security in Step #1 of “Calculate Your Benefits.”
  • Use your most recent estimate to determine your estimated retirement benefit based on your own earnings record.
  • Your retirement benefit based on your own earnings may be reduced due to another provision of the law, the Windfall Elimination Provision.
  • Subtract the estimated amount of your retirement benefit from the estimated amount of your spouse’s, widow’s, or widower’s benefit before GPO. Enter that amount in Step #2 of “Calculate Your Benefits” and select “Compute.”
  • The amount in #3 of “Calculate Your Benefits” is your estimated spouse’s, widow’s, or widower’s benefit after GPO is applied. Add that figure to the estimated amount of your retirement benefit to determine your total estimated monthly benefit.

If you retire before full retirement age:

  • Your total benefit as a spouse will be lowered. The reduction is dependent on your birth date. The maximum reduction for benefits beginning at age 62 is 30 % for someone born in 1946. It will increase to 35% for people born in 1960 or later.