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

Answers are provided by Robert S. Kaufman

Just Short of Meeting Vesting Requirement

(Posted July 28, 2009)

Question 715: I worked for the Illinois Central RR from 1980 until 1989. I have 116 months of service, just four months short of being vested. Can I get a refund of my contributions now or when I reach retirement age?

Answer: Right now you do not have enough rail credits to receive Railroad Retirement. When you retire, your 116 months of rail service will be transferred to Social Security and combined with your credits under that system in determining your Social Security benefit. You cannot get a refund of your contributions.

You are still young enough to try to get the four months of service that you need to be vested by securing a job in the rail industry for a short period of time. If you are interested, rail jobs across the country are listed on the Railroad Retirement Board's web site at

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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