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BenefitsLink > Q&A Columns >

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

Answers are provided by Robert S. Kaufman

Dual Rail Workers Are Divorcing

(Posted November 22, 2012)

Question 925: Here's a challenging one. I'm going thru a divorce after being married for 18 yrs. Husband has been on RR "occupational" disability for 14 yrs. I am a former RR employee who took a severance after 18 yrs of service and now post earnings under Social Security. I will be entitled to full RR pension in 12 yrs.. We fall under the married after 1975 rule regarding spouse & employee benefits. Is the occupational disability classification treated any differently regarding divorced spouses? My understanding is I could get awarded all of the Tier II in a divorce settlement with the proper filing of papers to the RRB. If true, is this amount affected (reduced) by the amount I will be entitled to for my personal pension when I reach retirement age in 12 yrs? In other words, will one offset the other? My personal pension will exceed the 50% of his Tier II. Would this Tier II amount be paid to me without penalty to him or would he lose his Tier II? I also understand I can petition for 50% of the Tier II without having to be awarded anything in a setllement (proper legal papers proving the divorce and requesting this benefit need to be filed, of course)? In this scenario I understand that there is no reduction to his pension and vice-versa, he can file for the same 50% of my Tier II benefits. How do our personal pensions play into these scenarios? Would we be entitled to both or only the higher of the two? Could I be paid the divorced spouse pension now (50% of his Tier I since he is already collecting for occupational disability) or do I have to be at least 62 to file for the Tier I option or Tier II option? It's confusing since the occupational disability makes it a form of income rather than retirement, since he is only 55...or does it? I have read the entire Lawyer's booklet at the RRB site, but it does not address divorce when both spouses are former RR employees.

Answer: I'm not an attorney nor do I give legal advise. You situation has some complex factors & I encourage you to stop being your own attorney & seek compedent legal advise on both your divorce action & on partitioning of Tier 2 benefits. Your attorney can work with the legal staff at the Railroad Retirement Board to ensure the best outcome.

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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