Q:

Can a divorced spouse receive railroad retirement and Social Security?

A:

Quick Answer

Because Railroad Retirement Tier I taxes and Social Security taxes are coordinated, a divorced spouse receives the higher amount of the two benefits, but not both, reports the Social Security Administration. A divorced spouse receiving Social Security may be eligible for a Railroad Retirement Tier II benefit.

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Full Answer

Employees pay Railroad Retirement Tier I taxes and Social Security Taxes at the same rates, and the credits for both are calculated using Social Security formulas, explains the Social Security Administration. If a railroad worker also receives Social Security benefits, the amount of a Tier I payment is reduced by the amount of the Social Security payment, effectively making only the higher benefit payable. To receive Railroad Retirement Tier I benefits, a divorced spouse must be at least 62 years old, unmarried and divorced from the employee for at least two years from a marriage that lasted at least 10 years, states the Railroad Retirement Board. The same eligibility rules apply to Social Security benefits for divorced spouses.

Railroad Retirement Tier II benefits are similar to a private defined benefit pension, states the SSA. Spouses of railroad workers can receive Tier II benefits in addition to receiving Social Security benefits, but divorced spouses only receive Tier II benefits if the benefits are awarded as a portion of a property settlement.

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