Why Can't My Mother Get Her Social Security Benefits?

Dec 16 2016 - 11:00am

Larry, I am asking for my mother, age 90, soon to be 91. She retired from a local school system with benefits from Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System. What bothers her most is all her years of paying into the Social Security and has be advised that she cannot receive that because see is under my deceased father's Railroad Retirement Benefits. Can you a clear up this matter for her and me, I suppose????

Thank you in advance;

Hi Mary,

If your mother worked and paid into Social Security long enough to be insured, she can get her Social Security benefits, but it might not increase her total benefit rate. That's because Railroad pays a tier 1 benefit that essentially substitutes for a person's Social Security benefit. In addition, Railroad pays a tier 2 benefit that is similar to a supplemental company pension. If a person is entitled to both Social Security and Railroad Retirement benefits, they can only be paid the higher of their Social Security or tier 1 Railroad benefit, plus their tier 2 Railroad benefit. This is the same principle that applies to someone entitled to Social Security on 2 different accounts, only the higher benefit is payable, not both.

So, the only way that your mother would be due more by taking her Social Security is if it exceeds the tier 1 Railroad benefit that she currently receives. You may want to check into that by contacting Social Security and the Railroad Retirement Board.

Best, Jerry