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BenefitsLink > Q&A Columns >

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

Answers are provided by Robert S. Kaufman

Widow's Benefits

(Posted June 22, 2003)

Question 275: My husband passed away last week. What will my new pension be? I've heard that I get my pension and half of my late husband's. I've also heard that I will get his pension in lieu of mine.

Answer: I'm very sorry about your loss.

To answer your question promptly, I'm going to assume that your husband was a railroad worker, that the RRB has responsibility for making survivor benefits, and that you are receiving Social Security based on your own earnings.

First, you are entitled to whatever Social Security benefit that you've earned.

Second, you can receive a widow's benefit from Railroad Retirement, but the Tier 1 portion of that benefit will be reduced by your own Social Security.

If you were receiving a wife's benefit from Railroad Retirement before your husband's death, you will now receive more as a widow. The RRB should continue your wife's benefits for 6 months in order to give you time to submit proof of his death. They will pay you additional benefits back to the month he died when your benefit is converted from a wife's benefit to a widow's benefit.

You should contact the local RRB office as soon as you can so you can receive the higher benefits at the earliest possible date.

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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