Ask Larry

Can I Start Out Drawing Railroad Spousal Benefits And Later File For My Social Security Benefits?

Hi Larry,

My husband worked for the railroad for 16 years but also worked in the private sector paying social security tax. He is eligible for tier 1 and 2. If he takes that, can I take half of his and then apply for my own full social security at a later date and will it still continue to increase while I am taking half of his?


Yes, if your husband is drawing Railroad Retirement (RR) benefits and you qualify for spousal benefits on his record, you could draw those benefits without being required to also file for your Social Security benefits. And, if you later file for Social Security retirement benefits based on your own work record, those benefits would be calculated without regard to whether or when you started drawing RR spousal benefits. Your Social Security retirement benefit rate would continue to grow until you reach age 70 if you wait until then to start drawing your Social Security.

However, once you start drawing your Social Security benefits, your Tier 1 RR benefits will be offset dollar for dollar by the amount of your Social Security benefits. In other words, you would only receive the higher of your Social Security or Tier 1 RR benefit, plus any Tier 2 RR benefits for which you qualify.

Best, Jerry

Dec 22 2018 - 10:04am
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