Ask Larry

Can I Collect My Deceased Husband's Social Security And My Railroad Retirement Benefits?

I am 56 years old. I have worked at the railroad for 20 years, and plan on retiring with full pension at the age of 66, because that is when I'll have my 30 years in. I am a widow, my husband died 13 years ago, and he paid into social security. I have not been remarried. My question is: How do I collect his social security? Can I do it before age of 66? Can I collect while I'm still working for the railroad? Can I collect social security and RRB benefits?


I'm sorry for your loss.

You could file for Social Security widow's benefits as early as age 60, but Social Security would withhold $1 of your benefits for each $2 that you earn in excess of the Social Security earnings test exempt amount in each year prior to the year you reach your full retirement age (FRA) of 67 ( That could result in the withholding of all of your benefits depending on how much you earn.

You may be able to draw both Social Security (SS) benefits and Railroad Retirement (RR) benefits in the future, but the Railroad Retirement Board will offset your monthly Tier 1 RR benefits dollar for dollar by the amount of your monthly SS benefit. What that means is that you would end up receiving a) the higher of your SS benefit or your Tier 1 RR benefit, plus b) any Tier 2 RR benefits for which you qualify.

Our software can help you determine your best strategy with regard to claiming your Social Security benefits, but it isn't designed to handle RR benefits.

Best, Jerry

Dec 14 2018 - 6:53am
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