Q. I don’t understand how 13 states can pass a social security offset. Social Security is a federal program. It seems unfair that I have worked and can’t collect on my husband’s Social Security while friends stayed home and they can. Also if I worked in another state I could collect. How can this be legal?

A. Social Security is a Federal law, identical in every state. What you are referring to is the Government Pension Offset that reduces (and often eliminates) Social Security spouse or survivor benefits for retirees who receive a pension from government employment that was not covered by Social Security. About three-fourths of all state and local employees are covered by Social Security. Public employees whose employment is covered by Social Security are unaffected by the Government Pension Offset but receive a spouse or widow/widower Social Security benefit only to the extent that the spouse benefit exceeds their own Social Security benefit.

For more information, see http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10007.html . (GPO).