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BenefitsLink > Q&A Columns >

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

Answers are provided by Robert S. Kaufman

When Rail Worker Is Not Vested

(Posted August 8, 2003)

Question 296: I worked under Railroad Retirement for 9 years. Is there any way that I can recover the taxes I've paid into the fund?

Answer: You need 10 years of service in order to be vested for Railroad Retirement, unless at least 5 years of your service are after 1995.

Unlike private sector pension plans, there is currently no provision for refunding employee contributions when the rail worker is not vested. But your rail credits will be transfered to Social Security and combined with your Social Security credits in figuring the amount of your Social Security benefits.

Also, if you had any railroad employment before 1975, your survivors might receive a Residual Lump Sum benefit following your death. The amount of that benefit is based on the amount of payroll taxes you paid on rail work through December 31, 1974.

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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