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BenefitsLink > Q&A Columns >

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

Answers are provided by Robert S. Kaufman

Benefits for Former Wife

(Posted March 30, 2003)

Question 233: I'm retired from the railroad on total disability after 35 years of service. I'm 59 and divorced; my former wife is also 59. She's unmarried and never worked long enough to qualify for her own Social Security. Can she draw Railroad Retirment now? If not, when will she qualify?

Answer: Based on the information you furnished, she will be eligible for a divorced wife's benefit when she reaches 62 if she is still unmarried. The amount will be smaller than a regular wife's benefit because it is restricted to the amount that Social Security would have paid if your railroad service had been credited under Social Security.

If you and she were still legally married when you both reach 60, she would have qualified for a regular wife's benefit consisting of a full Tier 1 and Tier 2. This benefit is much larger than the one paid to divorced spouses. Also, because you have over 30 years, it would begin 2 years earlier.

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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