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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.
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