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BenefitsLink > Q&A Columns >

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

Answers are provided by Robert S. Kaufman

Combined Survivor Benefits

(Posted March 13, 2007)

Question 621: Why can't my surviving spouse receive $255 from my Railroad Retirement and the $255 lump sum death benefit from Social Security? Assume my wife is under 50.

Answer: Your question makes a lot of sense but unfortunately it is different from the law the Congress passed in 1946 setting up a single survivor benefit system for people who worked and were insured under both Railroad Retirement and Social Security.

Only one $255 lump sum is paid even if the worker receives both Railroad Retirement and Social Security before death. The Railroad Retirement Board determines which agency is responsible for paying survivor benefits. The determination is based on the most recent employment immediately before retirement or death.

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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