TN 9 (10-12)

RS 01601.120 Entitlement Requirements for Life Claims Under the Railroad Retirement Act (RR Act)

A. Railroad Retirement (RR) Annuity based on age

Under the RR Act, the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) pays individuals who are no longer working under covered railroad work and who are eligible for a full or reduced retirement benefit.

1. Full RR annuity

A railroad worker meets the requirements for a full RR annuity at:

  • full retirement age (FRA) or older with at least 120 months of RR service at any time or 60 months of RR service earned after December 31, 1995; or

  • age 60 up to FRA with at least 360 months of RR service (with both requirements met before July 01, 1984); or

  • age 62 up to FRA with at least 360 months of RR service if, after June 30, 1984, he or she either attained age 60 or attained 360 months of RR service.

2. Reduced RR annuity

A reduced RR annuity is payable to those retiring at age 62 up to FRA when the worker does not meet the age or length of RR service required for a full RR annuity.

B. Railroad disability retirement annuity

Under the RR Act, the RRB provides two types of disability retirement annuities:

  • a total disability annuity, similar to the social security (SS) disability benefit, and

  • an occupational disability annuity, similar to workers’ compensation.

1. Total disability annuity

A railroad worker meets the requirements for an annuity based on total disability at any age if he or she:

  • is permanently disabled for all regular work; and

  • has at least 120 months of RR service or earned 60 months of RR service after December 31, 1995.

2. Occupational disability annuity

A railroad worker who has a current connection (for additional information on current connection, see RS 01601.100B.6) and a disability preventing work at his or her regular railroad job meets the requirements for an occupational disability annuity at:

  • age 60 up to FRA, with at least 120 months of RR service; or

  • any age with at least 240 months of RR service.

C. Railroad spouse’s annuity

1. Railroad spouse’s annuity based on child-in-care

The spouse of a railroad worker meets the requirements for a RR annuity at any age if he or she cares for a minor or disabled child of a railroad worker; and the:

  • duration of marriage was one full year immediately before the spouse's annuity began; or

  • spouse is the natural parent of the railroad worker’s child; or

  • spouse was eligible for a railroad retirement widow(er)'s, parent's, or disabled child's survivor annuity in the month before marrying the railroad worker.

2. Railroad spouse’s annuity based on age

Eligibility for a railroad spouse’s annuity occurs at age 60, 62, or 65 depending upon the railroad worker’s age, length of service, and retirement date.

D. Railroad divorced spouse’s annuity

As of October 1, 1981, the divorced spouse of a railroad worker meets the requirements for a railroad divorced spouse’s annuity at age 62, if he or she:

  • was married for at least 10 consecutive years to a railroad worker who is now at least age 62 and receiving an annuity; and

  • is unmarried; and

  • is not entitled to a SS benefit based on his or her own earnings, which (before any deductions) is equal to or greater than one-half of the railroad worker’s primary insurance amount one (PIA 1). The RRB determines the PIA 1 similar to SSA’s PIA determination.

E. Railroad independently entitled divorced spouse’s annuity

As of August 17, 2007, an independently entitled divorced spouse meets the requirements for this annuity at age 62, if he or she:

  • has been divorced from a railroad worker for at least two continuous years; and

  • is unmarried, and

  • was married for at least 10 consecutive years to the railroad worker who is at least age 62, fully insured under the SS Act using combined RR and SS earnings, but who need not have filed a claim for a RR annuity; and

  • is not entitled to a SS benefit based on his or her own earnings, which (before any deductions) is equal to or greater t