A teacher colleague who I worked with for 15 years retired a few years ago. Last night she sent me an email with a question.
She said she was telling a friend that if her husband died before her, as a teacher in the Teacher Retirement System, she received no Social Security spousal benefit. Her friend didn’t believe her and she was checking with me. I told her she was correct.
If she died before him, he could collect half her teacher pension benefit but she got nothing from his Social Security if he died before her.
This is one of those dirty little secrets about how teachers in a dozen or so states are punished by a federal pair of laws known as WEP/GPO.
Let’s take my case. I worked in the private sector 20 years before teaching and paid into Social Security. But based on some formula, my Social Security benefit is reduced so that it barely covers my Medicare bill (in case you thought Medicare was free). And I am denied any of Anne’s Social Security benefits should she die before me, which I would receive if I wasn’t an Illinois teacher in a pension system.
Ask your congressional rep and senators to explain it and why they have refused to change this punitive law.
They won’t tell me. Maybe they will tell you.