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BenefitsLink > Q&A Columns >

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

Answers are provided by Robert S. Kaufman

Getting Railroad Retirement Benefits After Divorce

(Posted July 28, 2003)

Question 291: I was married to a rail worker for 15 years before our divorce. We had two children. Am I entitled to any of his retirement benefits?

Answer: Railroad Retireement Benefits are divided into two parts, also called "tiers." The first tier is similar to Social Security; it does provide for a Divorced Spouse's Benefit at age 62 if the marriage lasted at least 10 years and if the former spouse is not married. The amount is restricted to what Social Security would pay based on railroad earnings. Also, it is reduced for any Social Security benefits the former spouse is entitled to receive.

The second tier is like a private employer pension. A portion can be awarded as part of a divorce property settlement. If the divorce decree did not provide for the division of the second tier, the divorced spouse cannot receive any Tier 2 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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