Can I Take Reduced Social Security Benefits And Later File For Railroad Retirement?

Jan 4 2017 - 6:45am

Hi, I spent most of my career contributing to Social Security but for the last 6 1/2 years I have been working for a labor organization that pays into the Railroad pension. I am going to retire this year at age 64. Can I take a reduced Social Security benefit until I turn 66 then apply to Railroad pension and get the unreduced Tier I and II benefits from the Railroad?


I'm not an expert on Railroad Retirement, so I can't fully answer your question. You can file for reduced Social Security benefits at age 64, which would continue to be paid at a reduced rate if you subsequently become entitled to Railroad Retirement benefits. You would then receive the higher of your Social Security or Tier 1 Railroad benefit, plus any Tier 2 RR benefit to which you are entitled. However, I don't know how the Railroad Retirement Board would calculate your RR benefits in that scenario.

I do know that you can accrue delayed retirement credits on your Social Security benefits even if you are receiving Railroad benefits. If your Social Security benefit will be higher than your Tier 1 RR benefit, it may be more advantageous for you to delay taking your Social Security benefits until age 70. Whether or not this would be the best strategy in your case depends on your potential benefit rates under the two programs. The maximization software available on this website can help you with your Social Security filing options, but does not handle Railroad Retirement benefits.

Best, Jerry