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

Answers are provided by Robert S. Kaufman

Working in Canada for an American Railroad

(Posted February 21, 2000)

Question 46: I worked for the Railway Express Agency in Vancouver, BC for a number of years on a part-time basis. Deductions were made for pension benefits. I'm now retired and I would like to claim these retirement benefits, but I don't know how to proceed.

Answer: Your question brings up a unique aspect of the Railroad Retirement System. Work in Canada for a U.S.-owned railroad was covered until the 1980's. At one time, Railroad Retirement was paying monthly benefits to over 5,000 Canadians.

Since the time REA went out of business (in the 1970's), your work in Vancouver was covered. This is in addition to any credits you were given for REA's own company pension or by the Canada Pension Plan. You may have simultanously earned credits under three different pension systems!

To find out if you are vested for Railroad Retirement, you need to contact the United States Railroad Retirement Board. Their Web site is:

To find out about REA's company pension plan, you need to contact the United States government agency now responsible for those benefits: the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. Its address is 1200 K Street NW, Washington DC 20526.

You will need your 9-digit United States Social Security number(which probably begins with a "7"). See Q&As 31 and 38 of this column for more discussions about REA pensions.

You can find out more about Canada Pension Plan benefits by
contacting the Canadian Benefit Advisory Service (CBAS). It's a private organization dedicated to assisting individuals obtain information regarding their eligibility for Canadian Social Security Benefits. The e-mail address is

Good luck in finding the information!

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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