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Answers are provided by Robert S. Kaufman
Dual Benefits for Married Couple
(Posted November 13, 2003)
Question 331: My wife was employed by two different railroads and accumulated 180 months of service under Railroad Retirement. I have been employed in the private sector and have more than the minimum number of quarters to qualify for Social Security. We are planning for our retirement and would like to know if we are entitled to receive benefits from railroad retirement and social security, respectively.
Answer: Your situation is typical. Your wife is vested for Railroad Retirement. She can receive a reduced retirement benefit at 62. You can qualify to a reduced spouse benefit as early as 62. Your Tier 1 will be reduced by the amount of your own Social Security benefit but the reduction does not apply to your Tier 2.
She can also qualify for a spouse benefit at Social Security but Tier 1 of her Railroad Retirement benefit will be reduced by the amount of those benefits, so she might not wind up with any more in total benefits.
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