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

Answers are provided by Robert S. Kaufman

Widow Took Lump Sum In Lieu of Future Monthly Benefits

(Posted April 24, 2008)

Question 663: My father was employed by Nickel Plate RR and passed away in 1965. My mother said she was told to take a $2,500 amount in place of receiving widow's benefits. This sounds ridiculous. Is she entitled to receive benefits? She is now 89 years old and in assisted living.

Answer: If you father died and your mother was under 60 at the time, there was a benefit called the "Residual Lump Sum" (RLS). The RLS was equal to the amount of taxes your father paid into Railroad Retirement plus an allowance for interest earned.

The RLS was offered to widows who were not old enough to immediately receive monthly benefits. The offer included the amount of future monthly benefits which the widow would give up in order to receive the RLS. If the widow elected to receive the RLS, she would give up any rights to widow benefits from Railroad Retirement. If the employee had enough Social Security credits to be insured, the widow still could receive widow's benefits from Social Security when she reached the qualifying age.

The law was changed in 1974, which effectively ended the RLS.

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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