Why Can't I Collect Both Social Security And Railroad Retirement If I Qualify For Both Benefits?

Jan 6 2020 - 10:01am

I am a retired railroader and qualified for a RR retirement annuity I also have credits to qualify for SSi retirement benefits, however there's a double dipping law that would prevent me from collecting SSi benefits without a reduction in benefits from RR retirement, however I did pay into both systems which is a law but there is also a law preventing me from collecting benefits that I contributed into. Help me understand this double standard. Respectfully Mike.

Hi Mike,

Railroad Retirement (RR) benefits consist of two tiers. Tier 1 is a substitute for Social Security benefits, and the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) uses any earnings that you paid Social Security taxes on when calculating your tier 1 benefit rate (https://rrb.gov/NewsRoom/NewsReleases/ReportingEvents). If you were able to also get credit for those same earnings by filing separately for a Social Security benefit, that would amount being credited twice for the same earnings.

Therefore, if a person files for both Social Security and RR benefits, they can only be paid the higher of a) their Social Security benefit rate or b) their tier 1 RR rate. They can also be paid any tier 2 RR benefits for which they are eligible, since those benefits are unaffected by the receipt of Social Security benefits.

Best, Jerry