Is What I've Been Told By Railroad Retirement Correct?

Nov 7 2017 - 6:38am

Hi:

I was a railroad employee from 1978 to 1998 with 246 months of service. I have SS on both sides of those dates. My local RRB representative has stated that with this amount of service and the date period I can delay the full benefit of RR Benefits until I'm 66+4 (BD 1/30/56), but can start to collect SS from age 62 until I'm 66+4 at which time the my payments would be increased to the RR benefit amount. I have searched through your postings and have not seen anything exactly like this scenario being discussed. I understand the Erisa issue could preclude this approach, but they have stated with my number of months of service that would not impact me from receiving four years of SS benefits with the bump to the RRB amounts later. They have confirmed this approach twice as being applicable, still being nervous about it I would appreciate hearing your opinion. Thanks!

Hi,

My only area of expertise is Social Security (SS), not Railroad Retirement (RR). I can only tell you that if you start drawing SS benefits before full retirement age your SS benefit rate will be reduced for age.

When a person files for both SS and RR benefits, they can only receive the higher of a) their SS benefit or b) their tier 1 RR benefit, plus any tier 2 RR benefits for which they are eligible. It sounds like RR is telling you that your tier 1 RR rate will be higher than your SS benefit rate, so it wouldn't hurt your overall rate if you start out drawing reduced SS benefits and wait until your full retirement age to start drawing RR benefits. I have no way of knowing if that's accurate in your case, though.

Best, Jerry