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BenefitsLink > Q&A Columns >

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

Answers are provided by Robert S. Kaufman

Worker's Death Less Than a Month After Marriage

(Posted March 25, 2004)

Question 418: Our step-mother and my father were married for 27 days when he died. There is no will. Can we fight her right to get any part of his estate?

Answer: Your question involves legal matters. You need to consult with an attorney who is familiar with the probate question.

Railroad Retirement usually does not pay benefits to a deceased worker's estate. Survivor benefits generally go to an individual based on his or her relationship to the deceased worker as prescribed by Federal law.

Your step-mother probably will not be eligible for a monthly widow's benefit because of the short duration of her marriage to your father. A marriage of at least 9 months is required to qualify (unless she was already getting a Railroad Retirement Spouse or Widow's annuity in the month before her marriage to your father).

She may, however, receive a Lump-Sum Death Benefit of $255.

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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