Social Security: Can Retired Railroad Workers Get Dual SS Benefit?


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U.S. railroad workers considering retirement amid the lingering threat of a national strike may have questions about how their retirement benefits will affect their Social Security benefits.

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As GOBankingRates previously reported, a railroad strike scheduled for Thanksgiving has been postponed to early December, temporarily allaying fears that an already strained supply chain in the United States could run into further trouble. However, the threat of a strike remains and could take place as early as December 9, according to union officials.

Railroad workers with enough years on the clock might decide to retire rather than go on a lengthy strike. If so, they can look forward to railroad retirement benefits that are separate from Social Security retirement benefits, but work the same way. In the case of railroad workers, retirement benefits are known as annuities.

According to the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board, railroad employees with 30 or more years of meritorious railroad service are eligible for regular annuities during the first full month they reach age 60. In this case, “meritorious” refers to credits for one month of railroad service, which are earned for each month an employee has had paid service covered by the Railroad Retirement Act.

The amount of the annuities is based on your age and employment. Railroad employees with less than 30 years of deserving service are eligible for regular annuities the first full month they are 62 years old.

Railroad employees with fewer than 30 years of service are subject to early retirement discounts if they retire before reaching full retirement age. The full retirement age for a railroad employee with less than 30 years of service is 66 for those born in 1943 through 1954. That gradually increases to age 67 for those born in 1960 or later.

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Benefits under the RRA are typically higher than those under the Social Security Act, the RRB said — especially for railroad employees who have 30 or more years of creditable railroad service. The higher benefits can be attributed to the additional pension tax paid by the employers and employees covered by the RRA.

In some cases, you may be eligible for dual railroad and Social Security benefits, according to Jeanne Kane, a certified financial planner at JFL Total Wealth Management in Boonton, New Jersey.

As she told, retirement benefits and Social Security benefits are both based on work history. In the case of railroad benefits, if your railroad career started before 1995, you must have worked in the railroad industry for more than 10 years or 120 months of service to be eligible. After 1995 you need at least five years of track work.

If you don’t qualify under that formula, your earnings from the railroad industry will count toward your Social Security credits, Kane said. If you do qualify, that income does not count toward qualifying income for Social Security. While you cannot “double” by earning the full amount of both benefits, you can earn double benefits, which are different.

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“If you qualify for dual benefits, the Social Security Administration determines how much is based on Social Security income,” Kane added. “The railway surcharge is reduced by this amount and a combined benefit is paid.”

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The Valley Voice
The Valley Voice
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.


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