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BenefitsLink > Q&A Columns >

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

Answers are provided by Robert S. Kaufman

Guaranty for Rail Workers' Benefits

(Posted October 3, 2003)

Question 315: Can an employee under the Railroad Retirement system receive less than he could have under Social Security? What are some of the differences between the two programs?

Answer: There is a Social Security minimum guaranty in the Railroad Retirement program. Rail workers and their families must receive at least as much as they would have under Social Security, if their rail service was creditible under that program.

Railroad Retirement generally provides retirement benefits earlier than Social Security does. A career railroader wirh at least 30 years of creditible service can receive full benefits at 60. So can the spouse.

Railroad Retirement provides benefits for those workers who become disabled in their regular job even if they do not meet the stricter requirements for total and permanent disability.

Railroad Retirement provides additional levels benefits above the basic Social Security level. Examples are Tier 2 and the Supplemental Railroad Retirement Annuity.

Both railroads and rail workers pay the basic Social Security level payroll taxes to finance Tier 1 benefits. In addition, both groups pay additional payroll taxes to finance benefits not provided by Social Security including Tier 2, the Supplemental annuity, occupational disability annuity and full retirement benefits with 30 years or more at age 60.


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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