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BenefitsLink > Q&A Columns >

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

Answers are provided by Robert S. Kaufman

When Is the "J" Prefix Used by Railroad Retirement?

(Posted May 31, 2007)

Question 626: Some railroad retirees have a retiree number that has a "J" prefix. What does the J prefix mean?

Answer: The "J" prefix is used by Railroad Retirement to denote a Joint & Survivor Option Annuity.

Joint & Survivor options were popular in the 1930s & early 1940s as a way for a rail worker to give his spouse a survivor benefit. The two spouses would agree to a permanent reduction in the retirement annuity during the life of the rail worker but the benefit would continue to be paid to the spouse after the rail worker's death.

When a separate survivor benefit was implemented in 1946, the joint & survivor benefit lost popularity.

Some spouses receiving survivor annuity payments perhaps are reaching age 100 by now!

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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