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BenefitsLink > Q&A Columns >

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

Answers are provided by Robert S. Kaufman

Second Marriage To Retired Rail Worker

(Posted August 10, 2004)

Question 499: I'm 55 and I plan to marry a railroad retiree. His wife passed away about 18 months ago. Will I be able to draw a Railroad Retirement benefit? What if we marry but he passes away before I start drawing it?

Answer: You will be eligible for a full Spouse Annuity as early as 60, if he has 30 or more years of rail service. Otherwise, you can get a reduced benefit at 62.

Your benefit will consist of two parts, called tiers. Tier 1 will be 50% of your husband's Tier 1 benefit, minus any Social Security benefit you receive. Tier 2 will be 45% of your husband's Tier 2 benefit. Tier 2 is not reduced for Social Security.

If your husband dies, you would be eligible for a widow's benefit as early as 60, if your husband has a "Current Connection." Otherwise his railroad credits would be transfered to Social Security, and the Social Security Administration would be responsible for paying any survivor's benefit to which you might be entitled under the Social Security rules.

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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