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

Answers are provided by Robert S. Kaufman

Benefits for Wives and Husbands of Retired Rail Workers

(Posted June 10, 1999)

Question 21: I'm a retired rail worker. I'll be 65 in next month. My wife is 63 and is being treated for a serious medical problem. When can she start receiving Railroad Retirement Benefits? And when will she be eligible for Medicare?

Answer: Like the Social Security program, Railroad Retirement provides a full range of benefits for wives and husbands of retired workers. The eligibility ages are somewhat more liberal for spouses of retired workers with 30 or more years of rail service. Benefits for those wives and husbands can start as early as 60. If the rail worker has less than 30 years, benefits can start at 62.

There are reductions for Social Security Benefits and any "Public Pension" payments the spouse is entitled to receive. There are also deductions for certain work activities. There may be a reduction applied for early retirement when the rail worker has less than 30 years and the spouse is under 65. (The normal retirement age slowly increases to 67 beginning with people born sfter January 1, 1938, applying the same scale as the one used for Social Security.)

From the information you furnished, your wife is eligible for benefits now, and she should file an application with the RRB as soon as possible. She will need to submit her birth certificate and your marriage certificate. But she cannot qualify for Medicare as your spouse until 65, unless she is receiving a disability benefit from Social Security.

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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