Q. My wife receives a small public pension. She worked as a part-time cook for a local school system where she earned approximately $160 per month. Does an offset apply to her Social Security spouse benefit? I have provided the majority of the income and support while she worked? Or does the offset apply regardless of income. Does the offset apply to a widow with a public pension? I have been unable to find anyone at Social Security who can verify the applicable section of the statute. Please help clarify!

A. Your wife’s Social Security spouse or widow benefit (based on your Social Security earnings record) is subject to the Government Pension Offset provision. That provision, enacted in 1977, is Section 202(g)(4) of the Social Security Act. The fact that you have always been the family’s primary wage earner is not a consideration.

The Government Pension Offset requires the reduction of any spouse or widow benefit otherwise payable by two-thirds of any pension received from public employment that was not covered by Social Security. In many instances, Social Security spouse or widow benefits are totally offset.

For more information about the offset, go on line to the Social Security Administration at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10007.html . (GPO).