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BenefitsLink > Q&A Columns >

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

Answers are provided by Robert S. Kaufman

How to Prepare to Divorce a Rail Worker

(Posted September 19, 2016)

Question 1252: I am currently disabled and only 48. My husband is employed with the Railroad. We are getting a divorce. Am I am entitled to any of his pension now? Also, I don't understand Tier 1 and Tier 2. I believe Tier 1 is him and Tier 2 is me, right? But I was told that we both have a Tier 1 and a Tier 2. How much will my pension be when husband retires at age 62? He started working in 1999. We have been married over 10 years. I collect Social Security right now. Will I have to stop collecting my Social Security once I'm able to get his pension?


First of all, most Railroad Retirement Annuities consist of two components. Tier 1 is like a Social Security benefit. It's based on all the worker's earnings. Tier 2 is similar to a private pension. It's based based only on rail earnings.

In your divorce negotiations, you can receive a portion of your husband's Tier 2 as part of the property settlement. If you are not remarried, you can also receive a Divorced Spouse Annuity at 62. That benefit only will consist of Tier 1. It will be reduced by the amount of your Disability Insurance Benefit from Social Security.

You need to consult with an experienced divorce attorney to be sure your interests are fully represented. If you do not know one, contact the local Bar Association. They can furnish a list of qualified attorneys. Many will accept reduced fees or even work "Pro Bono" (without any charge), depending on your financial circumstances.

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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