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BenefitsLink > Q&A Columns >

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

Answers are provided by Robert S. Kaufman

Converting a Widow's Annuity from 85% to 100%

(Posted August 23, 2016)

Question 1250: I'm a widow of a railroad employee. I'm told we will never get any increases until others catch up. Please explain.


Legislation in 2001 increased the Widow's Annuity from 85% of the rail worker's annuity to 100%, but it provided that, in order to fund the increase, future cost-of-living adjustments (increases, sometimes called COLAs) be suspended. Once the basic rate reached 100%, those widows affected would again receive cost-of living increases. It's been 15 years, and you now should be receiving cost-of-living increases for any year that the federal government determines that inflation during that year caused an increase in the cost of living. An increase has occurred during each year except 2010, 2011 and 2015.

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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