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BenefitsLink > Q&A Columns >

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

Answers are provided by Robert S. Kaufman

RRB Uses Social Security Payments To Recover Overpayments

(Posted July 10, 2003)

Question 285: Does the RRB have to right to use my Social Security benefits to recover a Railroad Retirement overpayment?

Answer: In many respects, Railroad Retirement Tier 1 and Social Security benefits are treated as a single benefit from the federal government's standpoint.

Your Tier 1 benefit is reduced dollar for dollar by any Social Security benefit that you receive. When your Social Security goes up, your Tier 1 goes down, unless your Social Security is higher than your Tier 1. It would not make much sense for one federal program to pay an increase that would cause an equal overpayment under another federal program.

In 1974, the Congress and President Ford agreed to a plan to avoid this situation completely. The plan was made part of both laws. Beginning in January 1975, the RRB has served as SSA's "agent" for making Social Security payments to Railroad Retirement beneficiaries. The RRB can recover their overpayment caused by an increase in Social Security rates and then pay any balance left to the beneficiary.

In most cases, this avoids the hardship and costs of repaying benefits to the RRB.

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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