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BenefitsLink > Q&A Columns >

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

Answers are provided by Robert S. Kaufman

Duration Of Marriage Requirement & Taxation of Railroad Retirement benefits

(Posted July 31, 2006)

Question 585: How long do me & my new wife need to be married before she can collect my benefits as a widow?
What part of my pension do I pay taxes on?

Answer: You new wife will be eligible for widow's benefits after you have been married for nine months.

You pay Federal income taxes on most of your Railroad Retirement benefit. Your benefit is divided into two parts for tax purposes. The part of you benefit that corresponds to a Social Security benefit is taxed like Social Security. This means that 50% to 85% is counted as ordinary income if you total income exceeds a certain amount.

The remainder of you benefit is taxed like a private contributory pension. IRS uses an actuarial formula called to "General Rule" to determine the portion of your benefits that are based on your tax contributions. That amount is excluded & not subject to Federal income taxes. The remainder is counted as ordinary income & taxed in the usual way.

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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