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BenefitsLink > Q&A Columns >

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

Answers are provided by Robert S. Kaufman

Future Planning For a Younger Wife

(Posted November 12, 2000)

Question 71: My husband is 48 years old and has 20 years of railroad service. He plans to retire at age 60 with more than 30 years of service. I am 15 years younger. When will I be eligible for benefits as a wife or as a widow? With the large age difference between my husband and myself, we need to determine if we need additional life insurance to pay off our house and put our kids through college, because my income alone would not cover those costs.

Answer: An excellent question! I can provide the answer under current law, but of course it's possible the laws regarding eligibility may change before you reach age 60.

Under current law, you will be eligible for a wife's benefit when you reach 60, because your husband will have 30 or more years of service.

If he should die before you reach 60, you will be eligible for a widow's benefit when you reach 60, unless you are disabled or you have children under 18.

If you are disabled and your husband dies before you reach age 60, you can receive a widow's annuity as early as 50 on a reduced basis.

If you have children under 18 and your husband dies before you reach age 60, you and the children receive benefits until your youngest child reaches 18. Your benefits would be reinstated when you reach 60 unless you remarry before reaching 60.

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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