Ask Larry

Can I Get Social Security Survivor Benefits If I'm Receiving Railroad Retirement?

My ex husband passed away in 2017 at age 67. He was collecting social security benefits. we were married almost 14 years. I have never remarried. I currently receive railroad retirement benefits. I understand that I may be entitled to receive some of his SS benefits as well. is this true ? if so, who do I contact ? SS or RRB? would my RRB benefits be reduced ?

Hi,

Possibly. Social Security survivor benefits can be paid to qualifying ex-spouses if they are at least age 60 and meet the other requirements (https://www.ssa.gov/OP_Home/handbook/handbook.04/handbook-0403.html).

If you do file for and receive Social Security survivor benefits, the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) will reduce your tier 1 Railroad benefits dollar for dollar by the amount of your Social Security benefits. So, you would likely only want to file for Social Security benefits if your benefit rate would be higher than your tier 1 Railroad benefit rate.

Social Security should be able to tell you how much you'd qualify for if you filed for survivor benefits, but they wouldn't have access to your Railroad Retirement records. You'll need to get that information from the RRB unless you already know the amount of your tier 1 benefits.

Best, Jerry

Posted: 
Jan 17 2019 - 9:25am
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