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Keeping a Current Connection
(Posted January 6, 2004)
Question 357: I took an early retirement package from my railroad employer after 31 years of service at age 56 in June 2001. Six weeks later I went to work for another railroad & continued for about 18 months as a railroad employee (paying Railroad Retirement taxes). That job ended in June 2003. In September 2003, I took a consulting job for firm that has me working for a railroad but not paying RRB taxes. Does my employment with the second railroad extend the time I have to protect the current connection? Can I work for an additional 17 months before losing my connection?
Answer: Based on the information you furnished, your nonrailroad work and earnings will not affect your Current Connection status until January 2005.
Here's how I arrived at January 2005. Your last 12 months of railroad service started in July 2002 and ended in June 2003. Going back to the first month of the 12 months (July 2002) and then counting forward 30 months, your 12-in-30-month period ends with December 2004.
I assume that you will turn 60 some time in 2005. Because the end of the 12-in-30 month period and your annuity beginning date are so close, the normal rule for breaking a Current Connection (working in two consecutive calendar years and earning at least $1,000 in each year) should not apply.
You will have to be very careful about working in 2005, because special rules on breaking your current connection will apply for that year. You might lose your Current Connection if, starting in January 2005, you work in every calendar month until your annuity begins(regardless of your earnings). Or you could lose your current connection by earning at least $200 in three different calendar months during 2005.
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