Question 376: What is a "current connection"? What is the benefit ofretiring under the 60/30 rule if I can't cover the rest of my expenses by not being able to work part-time for anyone other than the railroad?
Answer: A "Current Connection" is a legal term which, in plain English, basically means having a current employment relationship with the railroad industry when you retire under the Railroad Retirement System. It entitles you to certain benefits that are reserved for career rail workers, including a Occupational Disability Annuity, a Supplemental Annuity and all types of monthly Survivor Benefits.
If you are a career railroader and retire from that employment, you definitely will have a Current Connection. Your postretirement work activities will not change that status. Only workers who leave the railroad industry before they reach retirement age can lose their "Current Connection," if they have significant work and earnings during the interval between their railroad work and the date they become eligble for Railroad Retirement.
For a complete discussion of "Current Connection" please see Q&A 219 of this column (click).
You are correct in your belief that, after retirement, there are several restrictions and penalities on work and earnings.
First, your entire annuity is not payable for any month in which you again work for a railroad. If you leave the rail industry before reaching eligibility for an annuity and you then work for nonrailroad employers, your Tier 2 benefit is subject to a special work deduction. For any month in which you work for your last nonrailroad employer, your Tier 2 benefit will be reduced by as much as 50 percent.
Second, your Tier 1 benefit is subject to the same work restrictions that apply to Social Security benefits before you reach your normal retirement age.