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

Answers are provided by Robert S. Kaufman

Can Divorced Spouse Reopen Her Divorce Decree In Order to Partition Ex-Husband's Tier 2 Benefit?

(Posted August 7, 2014)

Question 1161: I am totally disabled. At the time of my divorce from my husband of 21 years, my husband had worked 13 years for the railroad. I enquired to the Railroad Retirement Board as to whether I was entitled to a benefit. They said I couldn't receive anything under his Tier 2 and I wasn't eligible for the Tier 1 until I turned 60. I was not told that the Tier 2 was an annuity and that it should have been part of my divorce decree; they said I wasn't entitled to it, so I didn't put it my divorce decree. I
was divorced in New Hampshire, which I believe is a community property state. Is this all correct? Do I have any recourse on the Tier 2? I have been divorced for 15 years. I am 57 years old and only get a Social Security Disability benefit.

Answer: I'm not an attorney, nor do I give legal advice. If you are not remarried and do not marry, you should be eligible for a Divorced Spouse Annuity at 62. Because you are receiving a Social Security Disability benefit, your Spouse Annuity will be reduced by the amount of your Social Security.

You should consult a divorce attorney who is experienced in partitioning retirement benefits, to see if your divorce decree can be revised to provide you a share of your former husband's Tier 2 benefit. The local Bar Association can furnish a list of qualified attorneys.

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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