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BenefitsLink > Q&A Columns >

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

Answers are provided by Robert S. Kaufman

Searching for Pensions for Former REA Employees

(Posted January 30, 2000)

Question 38: My grandfather worked at the Railway Express Agency in the early 1900's. My father is searching for information about my grandfather's retirement benefits. My grandfather had a fatal stroke at age 59, just one year before he would have been able to retire. My father was his only survivor and received nothing. Is Railway Express Agency the same as REA?

Answer: First, REA and the Railway Express Agency were one and the same company. REA went out of business in the early 1970's, and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (A U.S. government agency)became responsible for the company's pensions.

Since you indicated that your grandfather worked for REA in the early part of the 20th Century, I'm assumining his service ended before August 29, 1935, the date that the Railroad Retirement systam was established. Therefore contacting the Railroad Retirement Board would not be of any help.

I suggest that you or your father contact the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, 1200 K Street NW, Washington DC 20526, and ask for assistance. Their phone number is (202) 326-4110 and their website is located at

Remember any work before January 1, 1937 was not recorded by Social Security Number, so you will need to furnish PBGC as much information about your grandfather's employment with REA as possible. This includes any employee number assigned by REA, the exact location, supervisor, job title, and dates of employment. You should include your grandfather's date and place of birth, and date of death.

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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