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BenefitsLink > Q&A Columns >

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

Answers are provided by Robert S. Kaufman

Benefits for Divorced Spouse

(Posted March 4, 2004)

Question 397: I was married to my former husband for 18 years before our divorce. He is a railroad worker. My former husband is 3 years younger than I am. I was told by a lawyer that I am entitled automaticaaly to some pension benefits by federal law regardless of the divorce decree. Is that true?

Answer: Railroad Retirement does provide a benefit for a divorced spouse who was married for at least 10 years and who is not currently married. The benefit is computed under the Social Security formula. It is not payable until the rail worker and the former spouse are both 62. It is reduced by the amount of any other Social Security benefit the former spouse is entitled to receive. If the other Social Security benefits are higher than a Divorced Spouse benefit, Railroad Retirement would not pay a benefit.

The best way to guarantee the payment of benefits to a divorced spouse is to divide the rail worker's Tier 2 as part of the property settlement in a divorce decree.

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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