At the request of an Army disbursing officer, GAO answered questions concerning the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) and social security benefits. The questions relate to the propriety of payment on a voucher in favor of an Army officer's widow. The widow was receiving SBP payments as requested by her deceased husband. When she reached the age of 62, the Army reduced the amount of her annuity by an amount equal to that which she was entitled to receive from social security as a survivor of her husband based solely on his military service. This was done in accordance with the applicable U.S. Code. The Army subsequently refunded the offset when they received a statement from the Social Security Administration explaining that the widow would not have been entitled to social security benefits even if she had applied because of the level of her income from her current work. GAO stated that, according to current legislation, the SBP offset may be reduced if an annuitant's social security benefits are reduced because of work, even though no claim has been made for social security benefits. However, GAO also stated that, if the SBP offset is reduced or eliminated because of work and the annuitant discontinues working and becomes entitled to social security benefits, the SBP offset is reinstated computed at age 62.
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