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BenefitsLink > Q&A Columns >

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

Answers are provided by Robert S. Kaufman

Spouse Is Local Government Employee

(Posted April 8, 2004)

Question 424: I have been married to a railroad employee for 34 years. He has been employed by the railroad for 32 of those years. We have been separated for 2 years and are contemplating divorce. I am vested in a public employee retirement plan and will be eligible to retire from a city government job at age 58. I also have paid into Social Security and would be eligible for Social Security benefits at 62. Will my individual retirement plan from public service effect any benefits I might receive from railroad retirement? Is there a significant differnce between what Railroad Retirement pays, compared to Social Security?

Answer: If your government job is covered by Social Security, there would be no effect on Railroad Retirement. Otherwise, your Tier 1 benefit from Railroad Retirement would be subject to the "Public Pension Offset." Your Tier 1 benefit would be reduced by 2/3 of your public pension.

In either event, your Tier 1 benefit from Railroad Retirement also would be reduced by any Social Security benefits that you receive.

In answer to your second question, Railroad Retirement generally pay higher benefits than Social Security based on the same amount of earnings. Railroad Retirement taxes are higher that FICA rates too.

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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