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BenefitsLink > Q&A Columns >

Stop, Look & Listen: Railroad Retirement Benefits Q&A

Answers are provided by Robert S. Kaufman

Advantages of Retiring Under Railroad Retirement

(Posted April 18, 2014)

Question 1125: I worked for Lockheed Aircraft for 19-1/2 years on and off from 1973 until 1990. I have since worked for a U.S. railroad from 1992 up to the present. A few years after putting in time with the railroad I found out from talking with fellow railroad workers that I, like other people who've worked other non-railroad jobs, cannot collect retirement from our previous jobs. We paid into retirement at these other jobs. Why can't we collect what we paid into from these other jobs? I've heard it's a toss up between the railroad or the other non-railroad jobs to retire from.

Answer: You have two advantages retiring under Railroad Retirement.

The first is that your Tier 1 is based on both your railroad earnings and your earnings from non-railroad work. So you do get some value from your non-rail work.

Second, retiring directly from the rail industry gives you a "Current Connection," which ensures that your eligible survivors will receive two-tiered benefits from Railroad Retirement. And you will be eligible for an "Occupational Disability Annuity" if you are ever disqualified by the railroad. You will also be eligible for a Supplemental Annuity at 65 if you have 25 or more years of rail service.

Important notice:

Answers are provided as general guidance on the subjects covered in the question and are not provided as legal advice to the questioner or to readers. Any legal issues should be reviewed by your legal counsel to apply the law to the particular facts of this and similar situations.

The law in this area changes frequently. Answers are believed to be correct as of the posting dates shown. The completeness or accuracy of a particular answer may be affected by changes in the law (statutes, regulations, rulings, court decisions, etc.) that occur after the date on which a particular Q&A is posted.

Copyright 1997-2017 Robert S. Kaufman
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