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BenefitsLink > Q&A Columns >

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

Answers are provided by Robert S. Kaufman

Rail Worker Has Career Split Between Social Security and Railroad Retirement

(Posted February 2, 2013)

Question 964: I paid into Social Security for over 20 years. Now I work for a railroad and pay Railroad Retirement payroll taxes. If I stay with the railroad for the next 20 years and retire, are my Social Security benefits lost, or do those get converted into Railroad Retirement at some point so I have more years in?

Answer: Railroad Retirement benefits are divided between Tier 1 and Tier 2. Tier 1 is like a Social Security benefit. Your Social Security earnings will be combined with your railroad earnings to determine the amount of your Tier 1 benefit. The Tier 2 benefit is similar to a private pension; it is based only on earnings while a covered railroad worker.

You can apply for a separate Social Security benefit, but your Tier 1 would be reduced by the amount of that benefit, so you might not receive any more in total monthly benefits.


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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