Offsetting Pension Benefits

Several months ago you wrote that a teacher would be eligible for benefits from her divorced husband's social security because she had been married for over 10 years. I believe this is incorrect, as our state teacher's retirement benefits are reduced dollar for dollar for any dependent benefits received. A.S.

While there appear to be more exceptions than rules in this area of social-security-dependent benefits and government-agency retirement benefits, the general rule appears to affect only dependent benefits. Thus, the teacher would appear to be eligible for a retirement pension from her years as a schoolteacher. Current rules, however, do provide for an offset of any benefits received as a dependent on a dollar-for-dollar basis. If the teacher should be entitled to social security benefits on her own earlier work record, she could still receive these, along with her school-system retirement benefits.

The rules will change again for persons eligible for retirement after Dec. 31 , 1982. Benefits will be reduced for persons otherwise eligible for dependent benefits who also draw government pensions. The period between 1977 and 1982 was allowed as a transition period.You should contact your local social security office for clarification of eligibility and possible offsetting deductions from benefits. Exceptions are too complex to cover in a short answer.

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