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BenefitsLink > Q&A Columns >

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

Answers are provided by Robert S. Kaufman

Federal Civil Service Pensions

(Posted April 28, 2004)

Question 440: I am married to a railroad worker with 30 years of pension credits. He and I are both age 54; we've been married 33 years. I am a federal government employee and intend to retire in 6 years with 29 years of service. I am covered by the Civil Service Retrement System. When I retire at 60, I believe my pension will be paid by CSRS until age 62, at which time Social Security will begin and will be offset by CSRS. Will I be eligible for any Tier 1 or Tier 2 benefits on account of my husband?

Answer: If you are under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS), there is no connection to Social Security. Your federal employment is not covered by the Social Security system. You only contribute to the CSRS. With 29 years of service, you can retire at 60 on a full pension; there will be no adjustment at 62 for Social Security benefits.

You will be able to receive a Spouse Railroad Retirement benefit, but your Tier 1 will be reduced by 2/3 of your Civil Service pension. There would not be a reduction in your Tier 2.

The information you have about Social Security is for federal employees who are under the newer Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS). That system provides retirement benefits through a combination of federal pension, Social Security and the Thrift Savings Plan.

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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