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BenefitsLink > Q&A Columns >

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

Answers are provided by Robert S. Kaufman

Age Reduction Is Forever

(Posted May 24, 2003)

Question 257: My late father had 38 years of railroad service. He retire in 1999 & died last month (April 2003). My mother is 60 but has not yet retired. She has talked to the RRB about accepting her widow's benefit now with a reduction because her normal retirement age is 65 & 8 months.

Is an age reduction permanent or just until she reaches her normal retirement age?

Answer: An age reduction is permanent with one exception. At her normal retirement age, 65 & 8 months, the reduction is adjusted to eliminate any month she did not receive benefits because of excess earnings. In 2003, the earnings limit for people receiving a reduced benefit is $11,520. If her earnings are more than the ceiling, her benefits are reduced $1 for each $2 she earns after $11,520.

People who accept a reduced benefit usually do so to receive benefits earlier than if they waited until they could get full benefits. No one can forcast the future & people who are already retired or have lower earnings generally find it to their advantage to take a reduction for early retirement. In your mother's case, she could receive a widow's benefit for more than five years before she would reach her normal retirement age. But if she has significant earnings & she wants to continue to work, it probably would be smarter for her to hold off filing for a widow's benefit.

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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