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BenefitsLink > Q&A Columns >

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

Answers are provided by Robert S. Kaufman

Reduction of Public Pensions

(Posted July 17,2016)

Question 1249: I retired from the NS in 1994 on disability. My wife worked her entire carrier for USPS under the Civil Service Annuity System. Why is her spousal annuity being denied for Tier 1? Twenty-five years ago we were told it wouldn't be affected.


The law changed in the 1980's. Congress wanted to make sure that government workers eligible for spouse benefits and not covered by Social Security were treated the same as those under Social Security. The reduction for public pensions applies to both Social Security and Tier 1 of Railroad Retirement Annuities.

If your wife was under FERS instead of CSA, the Tier 1 of her Spouse Annuity would be reduced for her Social Security benefits.

As a personal note, because I also receive a Civil Service Annuity, I cannot receive a Spouse benefit because 2/3 of my Federal Annuity is more than half of my wife's Social Security benefit.

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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