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

Answers are provided by Robert S. Kaufman

Benefits for Widow(er) Under 60

(Posted December 26, 2003)

Question 351: My husband is 68 and very ill. He wants to see that I am taken care of at the time of his death. I am 54. He has 45 years on the railroad. I have never worked. Should he pass on, what and who do I turn to, in order to find out what I am entitled to collect?

Answer: I'm very sorry to hear about your husband's condition.

There is a "gap" in protection for younger widows who do not have a child still under 18. If your husband dies before you reach 60, you will not qualify for a monthly widow's annuity until you become 60, unless you are totally and permanently disabled from performing any type of employment. The Railroad Retirement program will pay you a lump sum death benefit (usually less than $1,000). When you become 60, you will qualify for a monthly widow's annuity, if you have not remarried.

You can get a better idea of how much the lump sum death benefit will be, and an estimate of your monthly widow's benefit at age 60, from the local office of the Railroad Retirement Board. A direct link to the RRB web site is at the bottom of this Q&A. The RRB site has an easy lookup for finding the district office serving your area.

It's a good idea to locate the office now, so in the event of your husband's death you will know someone there to contact for assistance. The RRB is an excellent Federal agency and it will do everything it can to help you in a time of need.

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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