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Answers are provided by Robert S. Kaufman
Benefits After Divorce
(Posted February 2, 2004)
Question 371: I have been married to a railroad employee for 30 years. I am now seeking a divorce. What Railroad Retirement benefits would I be entitled to? Must there be something written in a divorce settlement? What if I remarry?
Answer: There are two ways that a divorced spouse can draw Railroad Retirement: a "divorced spouse" benefit; and by being awarded a portion of her former husband's Tier 2 benefit (the private pension component) under the terms of a divorce settlement.
Railroad Retirement's benefit for a divorced spouse is identical to what Social Security provides to a divorced spouse, in both amount and in eligibility requirements. It is payable at 62 and is calculated under the Social Security formula, so it is reduced by any other Social Security benefit you receive, including the benefit based on your own earnings. If the other benefit is higher than the divorced spouse benefit, you would not receive any additional payment. If you remarry, your benefit would end but it could be reinstated later if that new marriage ends.
Your former husband's Tier 2 benefit will become payable when he retires and begins to draw his Railroad Retirement. But you are entitled to a share of that benefit only if your share is provided under the terms of the final divorce decree. Further, a copy of that document must be filed with the Railroad Retirement Board in Chicago.
You should read Q&A 97 (click), Q&A 98 (click) and Q&A 186 (click) of this column for additional important information that should be helpful to you and your attorney.
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.)
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