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Answers are provided by Robert S. Kaufman
(Posted December 11, 2005)
Question 561: How does a spouse find out what he can get from Railroad Retirement? Does he get to choose this or is it automatic?
Answer: Railroad Retirement provides defined monthly benefits for spouses of rail workers. When the benefits begin depends on the ages of both the worker and the spouse, and on the amount of rail service the worker has accumulated.
The earliest that a spouse can begin to receive benefits is at age 60 if the rail worker is at least 60, has at least 30 years of credited service and has retired. In this situation the spouse would receive an amount equal to 50% of the worker's Tier 1 benefit & an amount equal to 45% of the worker's Tier 2 benefit. The Tier 1 portion would be reduced by any Social Security benefit the spouse is entitled to receive.
If the rail worker has less than 30 years of service, the earliest benefits could begin is 62 (on a reduced basis), if the rail worker is at least 62 and has retired.
If you are nearing retirement, you and your wife should contact the nearest office of the Railroad Retirement Board and ask for an exact estimate of the spouse benefit.
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