What happens to the money I paid into Social Security prior to working for the Railroad? Are those contributions separate from my contributions to Railroad Retirement? Or will all be combined? By the way I worked for the Railroad for 17 years and am currently 54 years of age.
If you don't have sufficient Social Security credits to qualify for Social Security benefits, or if you do have enough credits but choose not to file for Social Security benefits, the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) can use the earnings on which you paid Social Security taxes to calculate your Tier 1 Railroad Retirement (RR) benefit rate. Tier 1 RR benefits are essentially a substitute for Social Security benefits, and are calculated using the same basic computational formula.
If you have at least 40 quarters of Social Security coverage and you file for Social Security retirement benefits at age 62 or older, you will be paid a Social Security benefit that's calculated based only on your Social Security covered earnings. However, if you collect both RR and Social Security benefits, your tier 1 RR benefits would be offset dollar for dollar by the amount of your Social Security benefit.