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BenefitsLink > Q&A Columns >

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

Answers are provided by Robert S. Kaufman

Will A Divorced Spouse Continue to Receive Benefits After Rail Worker's Death?

(Posted May 29, 2012)

Question 877: What happens to a divorced widow or widower who is receiving benefits before the rail worker's death. Does she or he continue to get the benefits and do they increase or decrease?

Answer: To receive monthly survivor benefits from Railroad Retirement, the rail worker must have been "vested" for death benefits with Railroad Retirement. The Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) determines if the rail worker has the required rail service and "Current Connection" with the rail industry at death.

If the rail worker meets the vesting requirements, Railroad Retirement has the responsibility for paying benefits to eligible survivors including Divorced Widow(er)s. Otherwise, Social Security will then pay survivor benefits. Those benefits are based on the deceased rail worker's combined earnings under Railroad Retirement and Social Security.

A Divorced Spouse receives half of what the rail worker would have received from Social Security; a Divorced Widow receives approximently what the rail worker would have.

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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