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

Answers are provided by Robert S. Kaufman

Amount Payable to Spouses

(Posted February 24, 2000)

Question 47: What percentage of a living employee's Railroad Retirement benefit is the wife or husband entitled to?

Answer: Railroad Retirement provides fairly generous benefits to spouses of living retirees. In fact, it is one of the few public or private retirement plans which provides direct benefits for spouses before an employee's death.

A spouse's rate is based on the following factors:
  • Retired employee's Tier 1 rate
  • Retired employee's Tier 2 rate
  • Whether the spouse receives any Social Security benefits
  • The ages of both the retired employee and the spouse

A spouse can receive up to an amount equal to 50 percent of the employee's Tier 1 benefit and up to 45 percent of the employee's Tier 2 benefit. The spouse's Tier 1 benefit can be reduced if he or she is under 65 or receives Social Security. The spouse's Tier 2 benefit can be reduced if he or she is under 65.

Please see Q&A # 21 for more information about Spouse Benefits including the age requirements.

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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