Question 913: I have been doing genealogy searches and have discovered that my dad had a funny Social Security number. He was born and raised in Chicago but has a Social beginning with 710. None of his brothers have one. And the Social Security death index says it was issued by the railroad. I know that he and his brothers worked for the stock yards as young men. Can you explain this to me? Do you think he was a railroad employee?
Answer: Because your father had a "700" series Social Security number, he definitely was working for an employer covered by the Railroad Retirement Act when he received his Social Security number -- probably in 1936. The Railroad Retirement Board issued "700" series numbers from 1936 until 1963, when the unused numbers in the series were returned to Social Security.
Although most employers in the Railroad Retirement system are pure railroad operations, there were some, like the Union Stockyards in Chicago, that were closely related to the railroads and that were included in the system. The Union Stockyards owned a famous restaurant at 42nd Street & Halsted called the "Stockyards Inn" at which the waiters and other employees were covered by Railroad Retirement. Railway Express Agency (REA), a forerunner of UPS and Federal Express was also a "railroad employer." So was a resort in Sun Valley, California.
You can call the Railroad Retirement Board to find out how much railroad service after 1936 that your father had. He would have needed at least 120 months to be vested, including service he performed before 1937.
The RRB toll-free number is (877) 772-5772.