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BenefitsLink > Q&A Columns >

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

Answers are provided by Robert S. Kaufman

No Practical Way To Avoid Reduction In Spouse Benefits

(Posted May 20, 2004)

Question 452: I work for the railroad. My wife soon will rejoin the workforce. Are there any retirement plans that would not be deducted from her spouse Railroad Retirement benefits when she qualifies?

Answer: Most employment in the United States is now covered by Social Security. Even the President, Congress and federal government workers pay into the Social Security funds. Major exceptions include state and local governments and school teachers in about half of the states.

But there is a reduction in both Railroad Retirement & Social Security spouse and survivor benefits if the spouse also receives a public pension. Tier 1 would be reduced by 2/3 of the public pension benefit. So even if she doesn't work in employment covered by Social Security, her spouse benefits probably will be reduced.

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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