Does WEP apply to spousal social security benefits?

All my earnings over the past 44 years (I am currently 61 and retired) were social security covered. I never worked in any state jobs. My wife had only 7 years of social security covered earnings (1976 to 1982) which did not result in enough credits for her to receive her own social security benefit. However, my wife has worked on a state job the last 14 years and will get a state pension.

If my wife had enough credits for a social security benefit I would have expected that benefit would be reduced due to WEP. But I would not expect her spousal benefit to be reduced. Her spousal benefit in the social security report is about 35% of my benefit. I thought it should be 50% because my understanding is that WEP doesn't affect spousal benefits unless the other spouse's benefit (i.e. my benefit) was reduced due to WEP, which is not the case.

Can you help me understand why my wife's spousal benefit in the ESP Social Security report is only 35% of my benefit instead of 50%? Am I misunderstanding something?




dan royer's picture

I wrote to one of our SS experts and he replied this way:

It's GPO, which affects her spousal and any widow's benefits she might get. Include the MMSS FAQ on this and tell him to check out the GPO brochure.
(see question on GPO)

Do the results account for the effects of the Government Pension Offset and the Windfall Elimination Provision that are triggered by my non-covered pension?

Yes. We fully account for both the Government Pension Offset (GPO) and the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP).

You can enter information about pensions based on work not taxed by Social Security on the Non-Covered Pensions screen. Be sure to read and understand the instructions and the Page Help tab so you can enter the correct information.

The effects of the non-covered pension are included in the results. You can explicitly see how the GPO and WEP affect the results by temporarily deleting the non-covered pension and comparing the results with and without the non-covered pension.

Thanks! Thank explains it. According to the document at, her social security benefit is reduced by 2/3 of her state pension and that is exactly what ESPlanner shows in her social security report.

dan royer's picture


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