Q&A: When pension trumps Social Security

Dear Liz: I am in my third marriage. My first two marriages each lasted 10 years. My spouses worked in jobs requiring them to pay into Social Security. I am currently retired (since 1999) and worked for a city government my entire career. I currently receive a pension from the city. Am I entitled to receive anything from Social Security for the time I was married to my previous spouses? It seems only fair since I had to pay each of them spousal support.

Answer: That’s a novel argument! Alas, the Social Security system doesn’t care about the details of your divorce decrees.

You can call Social Security and ask if you’re eligible for a benefit, but don’t get your hopes up if your pension comes from a job that didn’t pay into Social Security. A provision known as the government pension offset probably would wipe out any divorced spousal or divorced survivor benefit you might receive.