TN 6 (05-02)

RS 01601.300 Jurisdiction Determinations of Survivor Benefits

A. Introduction

The SS and RR Acts bar entitlement to survivor lump sum or monthly benefits from both SSA and RRB on the same worker's SSN. Only one of the agencies will adjudicate the claim, even if the NH when living was entitled or insured under both of the Acts. The “determination of adjudication” responsibility is called the “jurisdiction determination” for survivor benefits.

Jurisdiction determinations occur only in survivor claims. Although either agency may end up with jurisdiction of the claim, only RRB has the authority under the RR Act to make the jurisdiction determination. (See RS 01602.200ff for processing survivor claims and how to get a jurisdiction determination. See RS 01601.150D.3. and RS 01601.155 for effect of RRB payment of RR lump sum and residual death payment, respectively.)

B. Policy

1. When RRB has jurisdiction of survivor claim

If the deceased NH was insured (partially or fully) under the RR Act and had a current connection with the RR industry at death, RRB will use both the RR and SS earnings to compute the annuity. (See RS 01601.100B.6. for current connection definition.)

2. When SSA has jurisdiction of survivor claim

If the deceased NH did not have a current connection with the RR industry at death, RRB will give jurisdiction to SSA. It does not matter that the NH had 120 or more months of RR service or effective 01/01/2002, has less than 120 months of RR service but has at least 60 months of RR service after December 31, 1995. SSA will use both SS and RR earnings to compute the survivor benefit.

NOTE: SSA jurisdiction does not preclude RRB certification responsibility. In certain circumstances, RRB remains the agency that has the authority to certify the survivor benefits to Treasury even though it gives SSA jurisdiction for adjudicating the claim. (See RS 01601.310C and RS 01601.310D for examples.)

3. How RRB jurisdiction can bar both SS and RRB

If an NH had insured status under both the SS Act and RR Act, RRB will have jurisdiction of the survivor claim. However, a claimant who could have received survivor benefits under the SS Act, but who is not eligible under the RR Act (i.e., for a class of benefits that does not exist under the RR Act) will not receive survivor benefits from either SSA or RRB. The existence of survivor insured status under the RR Act bars the payment of SS lump sum or monthly benefits based on the earnings of the deceased even though the only survivor or survivors are not provided for in the RR Act.

C. Procedure - Obtaining a jurisdiction determination in survivor claims

When a person files for railroad retirement benefits, RRB usually makes a survivor jurisdiction determination. Jurisdiction data is available on DRAMS. Even in a life case, this decision is displayed on the DRAMS query under RRB INFORMATION. Since jurisdiction is an issue only for survivor claims, you should ignore jurisdiction data for all life claims.

The earnings computation (EC) process displays RR earnings for all survivor types. The EC process also identifies if RRB has made a jurisdiction determination for the NH. If a jurisdiction determination is available on DRAMS, the remarks on the remarks screen (DRMK) will advise which agency has jurisdiction, SSA or RRB. Jurisdiction data on the DRAMS file is updated weekly with information provided by RRB.

D. Reference

RRB reverses a jurisdiction determination, RS 01602.215

Informational/certified earnings request (ICERS), SM 00349.001, MSOM ICERS 001.002

Railroad compensation records, MSOM MCSEC 001.001

Railroad earnings data (DRRE), MSOM MCSEC 001.001

DRAMS query response, MSOM QUERIES 005.003

To Link to this section - Use this URL:
RS 01601.300 - Jurisdiction Determinations of Survivor