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BenefitsLink > Q&A Columns >

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

Answers are provided by Robert S. Kaufman

Married Rail Worker Couples & "Dual Benefits"

(Posted August 14, 1999)

Question 25: I heard recently that if you are a railroad employee who was hired prior to a certain date, and your spouse is also a rail worker, you may be "grandfathered" and eligible for a full spouse benefit in addition to an employee benefit. Is this true? And if it is true, could I return to a railroad job and earn the additional 3 years I need to get 10 years and become vested in an employee benefit? My husband started rail work before 1973. If I become vested for Railroad Retirement in my own right, will we both be eligible for a "full" spouse benefit on each others' account?

Answer: Yes, there is a special rule for married couples who are both rail workers. If either one had any railroad work before January 1, 1975, then the normal reduction in a spouse benefit for another Railroad Retirement benefit is not applied.

Before returning to the rail industry, you need to consider the financial gain for you and your husband by becoming vested for your own Railroad Retirement benefit. You should contact the nearest office of the Railroad Retirement Board and ask them for benefit estimates with and without your vesting status. You can find the location of the RRB office on their Web Site at

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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