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BenefitsLink > Q&A Columns >

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

Answers are provided by Robert S. Kaufman

Current Spouse and Former Spouse Do Not Share Benefits

(Posted September 9, 2007)

Question 633: I was divorced in 1997 after 18 years of marriage, and remarried in 2003. When I retire at 60 in 2009 with 33 years of railroad service, my not-remarried ex-wife (who is employed) will be 58 and my current wife (who also is employed) will be 55. Will spousal benefits for my wife be reduced if my ex-wife claims her benefit before my wife does?

Answer: Benefits for former spouses and current spouses are separate. The amount that each is entitled to receive is not affected by what the other receives.

Your wife will be entitled to a regular spouse annuity at 60. It will consist of a full Tier 1 and a full Tier 2.

Your ex-wife will be entitled to a divorced spouse benefit at 62 if she is not remarried. The amount is based on the Social Security benefit formula and does not include a Tier 2 amount.

Your wife's Tier 1 benefit will be reduced by any Social Security she is entitled to.

Similarly, your ex-wife's entire benefit will be reduced by any Social Security she is entitled to.

Your ex-wife's benefit also will be reduced for age if she elects to receive her benefit before she reaches her full retirement age.

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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