Can I Draw Spousal Benefits If My Husband Receives Railroad Retirement?

Mar 30 2017 - 8:15am

Hi Larry,
I am trying to understand spousal benefit options, given this scenario:
Husband worked sufficient years under the RR system and also separately paid into Social Security (at least 40 quarters).
Husband is 65 and currently collecting RR Benefits, with his wife approaching age 59. The wife does not qualify for Social Security benefits on her own, but would be entitled to Social Security Spousal Benefits...normally.
If the husband is collecting RR Benefits and not his social security benefits, is the wife able to collect Spousal benefits (50%) under what the husband accumulated through Social Security? Or would this too, reduce the RR Benefits currently being received?
Thanks,
Shawn

Hi Shawn,

You can potentially receive spousal benefits from the Railroad Retirement (RR) Board, but not from Social Security (SS) unless your husband files for his Social Security benefits. Filing for Social Security may or may not be advantageous depending on your husband's potential Social Security benefit rate as opposed to his Tier 1 RR benefit rate.

If your husband files for Social Security, Railroad will offset his Tier 1 RR benefit by the amount of his SS benefit (https://www.rrb.gov/opa/qa/pub_1606.asp). So, it would only be advantageous for him to file for Social Security if the benefit rate would be higher than his Tier 1 RR rate. The same thing applies to you and your spousal benefits. By the way, your husband's Social Security credits are included in calculating his Tier 1 RR rate, which is why you can't get both of those benefits in full.

Best, Jerry