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BenefitsLink > Q&A Columns >

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

Answers are provided by Robert S. Kaufman

Husband and Wife Are Both Rail Workers

(Posted December 2, 2004)

Question 532: I'm a retired railroad worker; my wife is working for a short line railroad. She needs to complete 2 more years to draw railroad retirement. I had 34 years. My understanding is that when my wife retires she will receive 50% of my Tier 1 and 45% of my Tier 2. Will she be able to draw her own retirement based on what she has paid in? If so, would I receive a portion of her retirement, as she would mine?

Answer: Because you started railroad employment before 1975, you and your wife both should be able to draw a Spouse annuity, with no reduction for your own employee annuity. But it will change the division between Tier 1 and Tier 2 under the Spouse annuity. This is because the Tier 1 will be reduced for an employee annuity but the reduction amount will be restored in the Tier 2.

By the way, for service after 1995, only 5 years (60 months) is required for vesting, not 10 years (120 months). So your wife already should be vested.

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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