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 http://www.rrb.gov.
You will need to provide your father's full name and his Social Security Number.