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BenefitsLink > Q&A Columns >

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

Answers are provided by Robert S. Kaufman

Benefits for Disabled Child

(Posted August 26, 2004)

Question 508: My disabled son is 20. He receives Social Security through my wife's account (she is on Social Security disability). Social Security told my wife when she applied that our son would be moved over to Railroad Retirement when I retire. I plan to retire in December after 30 years, at age 60. But Railroad Retirement recently told me that my son will not receive benefits through the RRB. Is that right? How can I get an attorney in New Jersey if we want to fight this?

Answer: Unlike Social Security, Railroad Retirement does not provide direct benefits for the children of retired workers. (Though it does provide benefits for the children of deceased workers.)

Instead, the rail worker's benefits can be increased under the Special Guaranty Formula to provide additional benefits that Social Security would pay to the children. The Social Security representative might have provided erroneous information about what would happen with your son's benefits once you retired.

Once you retire and begin to receive Railroad Retirement, your claim should be reviewed automatically to see if including a disabled child could increase your benefits. But the fact that your son already receives a disabled child's benefit from Social Security from your wife might preclude Railroad Retirement from paying higher benefits. A disabled child cannot draw benefits from both parents; only the higher amount is paid.

Normally an attorney is not required to ensure that you and your family receive all of the Railroad Retirement benefits that your have earned. The Railroad Retirement Board has a highly competent staff whose number 1 priority is to make sure that all applicants receive all the benefits that they are entitled to.

If you feel you need the services of an attorney, you should contact the New Jersey Bar Association and ask them for a referral. Their phone number is (732) 249-5000.

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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