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

Answers are provided by Robert S. Kaufman

Rail Widow to Receive Widow's Benefit from Social Security

(Posted December 31, 2014)

Question 1228: My father recently passed away and my mother has since been informed that she is ineligible for survivor benefits because my father was not insured under the Railroad Retirement Act for death benefits. He retired in 1978 after 31 years of service with the Long Island Railroad. Why would he not have been insured? Also, would his railroad earnings be a factor in calculating my mother's Social Security survivor benefit?

Answer: The only reason that your mother will not receive a Widow's Annuity from Railroad Retirement is that your father did not have a "Current Connection" with the rail industry when he retired. Apparently he left rail employment several years before he was eligible for a Railroad Retirement Annuity and he had substantial earnings from non-rail work.

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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