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

Answers are provided by Robert S. Kaufman

Earliest Age at Which a Widow Qualifes for Benefits

(Posted August 10, 2003)

Question 297: I am a 55-year-old widow of a rail worker. My husband died earlier this year. He had worked for the railroad for 20 years and was on disability at his death. What kind of benefits am I eligible for? when? Will it be reduced by my state teacher's pension?

Answer: Unless you are disabled, you will not qualify for widow's benefits until you reach age 60. But you are immediately eligible for a lump sum death benefit.

If you are now disabled, or if you become disabled before 60, you would be eligible for a Disabled Widow's Benefit.

The Tier 1 portion of your widow's benefit will be reduced by 2/3 of your state teacher's pension. This is because of the "Public Pension Offset." It also will be offset by the amount of any Social Security you might be entitled to. Your entire benefit also be reduced for age, depending on when you start to receive the Tier 1 portion of your widow's 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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