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

Answers are provided by Robert S. Kaufman

How to Be Sure My Family Recieved All Benefits Due After My Parent's Death

(Posted March 4, 2001)

Question 88: My father died in 1970. He had worked for a major railroad for 22 years up to his death. My mother was 45 at the time. Counting me, my parents had 6 children, then ages 8 to 16. Mother received Railroad Retirement benefits for about 10 years as a widow.

Is my family entitled to any more benefits or a refund of my father's contibutions to the Railroad Retirement fund? How do we find out if there's anything more due to us?

Answer: It sounds like your family has received all of the payments due.

At 45, your mother could only receive a widow's annuity for the reason that she had children under 18.

In addition, each of the children was entitled to receive his or her own annuity until reaching 18 (or 22, if he or she then went to college). The Railroad Retirement Board would have combined all of those benefits into one monthly payment that was sent to your mother.

Because payments to your mother continued for about 10 years, the total benefits paid to your family would have greatly exceeded your father's payroll contributions.

Your mother should have been eligible for a widow's annuity again in 1985, when she reached 60 (unless she had remarried).

You can confirm the benefits paid after your father's death by contacting the local office of the United States Railroad Retirement Board. Their address, phone number and e-mail address can be found at
You will need to provide your father's full name and his Social Security Number.

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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