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

Answers are provided by Robert S. Kaufman

Impact of Employment Gap on Benefits

(Posted June 23, 2003)

Question 277: After 19 years of service, my husband lost his rail job because of a merger. He was unemployed for two years, then went to work under Social Security. He's now totally disabled due to cancer. He has applied for Railroad Retirement disability. Will the two year employment gap affect his benefits?

Answer: Railroad Retirement uses the Social Security formula to calculate Tier 1. The 5 lowest years of earnings are dropped from calculations, so a 2-year gap will not lower the "average monthly wage" used to determine his Tier 1.

Tier 2 uses the highest 60 months (5 years)of rail earnings. So the 2-year gap will not affect the amount of his Tier 2 either.

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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