Ask Larry

Can My Husband Apply For Social Security Spousal Benefits And Continue To Collect His Railroad Retirement Benefits?

I reached full retirement age in Sept. I believe my Social Security retirement will be higher than the spousal Rail Road retirement I am getting from my Husband at this time. I understand I will continue to receive on Tier even if I get Social Security. Can my Husband apply for spousal benefits thru my social security account and continue to collect his Railroad Retirement benefits? Does his Railroad retirement reduce his social security spousal benefits? we are both over 66.


Your husband could file for Social Security spousal benefits when you start drawing your Social Security retirement benefits, but the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) would then offset his Tier 1 Railroad Retirement (RR) benefit dollar for dollar by the amount of his Social Security spousal benefit. The RRB would also offset your Tier 1 RR benefit dollar for dollar by the amount of your Social Security benefit. In other words, receiving RR benefits doesn't cause a person's Social Security benefit rate to be reduced, but receiving Social Security benefits does cause a person's Tier 1 RR benefit to be reduced.

It probably only makes sense for you and your husband to apply for Social Security benefits if your Social Security benefit rates would be higher than your Tier 1 RR rates. The RRB should be able to tell you your Tier 1 amounts, and you should be able to get estimates of your potential Social Security benefit rates by calling Social Security.

By the way, your Social Security benefit amount would continue to grow until age 70 due to delayed retirement credits if you wait until then to start drawing your Social Security benefits. Our software ( could help you determine your best strategy for maximizing your Social Security benefits, but it isn't programmed to handle RR benefits.

Best, Jerry

Nov 13 2020 - 8:23am
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