Widow(er)s’ Benefits When Government Pensions are Involved

Date: 
Wednesday, April 8, 2015
Report Number: 
A-13-14-14010
Report Type: 
Audit Report
Office Affiliation: 

SSA administers the Old-Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance (OASDI) program under Title II of the Social Security Act. Spouses of individuals insured under the OASDI program may be eligible for OASDI auxiliary benefits. According to SSA policy, a spouse is entitled to a maximum of 50 percent of the insured individual’s primary insurance amount (PIA). However, a widow(er) may be entitled to 100 percent of the deceased insured individual’s PIA.

If the spouse worked in a job that was not subject to Social Security taxes, OASDI auxiliary benefits can be subject to a Government Pension Offset (GPO). The GPO amount is two-thirds the amount of the non-covered pension. If two-thirds of the government pension is equal to or more than the OASDI spouse or widow(er) benefit, SSA reduces the payment to zero.

Our report assesses SSA's effectiveness in completing government pension verifications and payment recalculations for auxiliary beneficiaries eligible for widow(er)s benefits who had previously received benefits as a spouse.