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When a Young Widow Remarries
(Posted August 24, 2003)
Question 303: My husband worked on the railroad for approximately 18 years. He passed away 4 years ago. I am receiving a monthly annunity for myself and our 3 young children. I recently have been thinking about re-marrying. What would happen to my and the kids' monthly benefits? What would happen to my benefits at retirement? We would like to try to start a new life but I worry about losing any benefits that my late husband worked so hard to provide for us.
Answer: Normally a young widow with children under 18 can receive benefits until her last child is 18. If she is under 60, there is a "gap" in payments until she turns 60, when she will again be eligible for monthly benefits.
The children's benefits continue until they reach age 18 regardless of their mother's status. These benefits can extend beyond age 18 if the child is permanently disabled before age 22 or has not finished high school.
If you remarry before your last child is 18 and no longer eligible for benefits, you would lose the Tier 2 portion of your benefit completely. Your Tier 1 would continue to be paid at a "restricted" (lower) rate until your last child is 16 (not 18) only if you marry someone who already is receiving Railroad Retirement or Social Security benefits.
If your new marriage ends before your last child is 16, you can reestablish eligibility for Railroad Retirement and receive a Tier 1 benefits at a "restricted" rate. You will then be eligible at 60 on the same basis if you are not married at that time.
And remember, your Railroad Retirement benefit will always be reduced by any Social Security benefits you receive based on your own earnings, or based on a new husband's record. In some cases, this may completely wipeout the Railroad Retirement benefit.
You may want to ask Railroad Retirement what the "restricted" would be if you qualify as a "remarried" widow in the future.
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