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BenefitsLink > Q&A Columns >

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

Answers are provided by Robert S. Kaufman

How To Find Out If You're Entitled to Anything from a Deceased Relative's Claim

(Posted March 10, 2000)

Question 49: My father worked for a railroad in New York City sometime beginning about 1940. I only met him once in 1955. Then I moved out of town and never saw him again. I understand he is now deceased. How can I find out if there is any money left in his Railroad Retirement account to which I may be entitled?

Answer: You need to contact the United States Railroad Retirement Board, 844 North Rush Street, Chicago, Illinois 60611-2092. Their phone number is (312) 751-4500. Their Web site is

Before calling or writing to the RRB, you will need to try and gather the following information:

  • Your father's Social Security Number. If you don't have it, then you need the names of his parents (your grandparents) and his place and date of birth.

  • The name of the railroad(s) he worked for, the dates and locations of when and where he worked.

    Get as much of the about information as you can find. It will help the RRB in searching their records. This is particularily true if your father had a very common last name.

    Chances are, there are no benefits left to be paid. Adult children rarely are entitled to benefits following the death of a railroad worker. Usually monthly payments are made to a widow(er) or minor children (until 18). If there are no immediate family members entitled to monthy benefits, a lump-sum payment may be made to the person(s) who paid for the funeral and other burial costs.

    However, it's a good idea to confirm this with the RRB. If they can locate your father's record, they should be able to tell you who and what was paid after your father died.

  • 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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