Will my Railroad spousal pension impact my Social Security retirement benefits?

Published: June 24, 2021

Full question: My husband receives an annuity (pension) for his work with the Railroad Retirement system. I am 58 and will also be eligible to receive a spousal RR annuity at 60. I have many years of SS covered employment. Will my RR spousal pension impact my SS retirement benefits?


It may be that your Social Security retirement benefits will affect the amount of your spousal Railroad Retirement annuity benefit, but it is still to your financial advantage to apply for a railroad retirement spouse annuity.

Railroad Retirement annuities are calculated in two Tiers, so it is important to determine how much of each of these you are eligible to receive as a spouse.

The Tier I portion of a spouse RR annuity is reduced for any Social Security entitlement, regardless of whether the Social Security benefit is based on the spouse’s own earnings, the employee’s earnings, or the earnings of another person.

This reduction follows principles of Social Security law, which limit payments to the higher of any two or more benefits payable to an individual at one time.

While these offsets can reduce, or even erase, the Tier I benefit amount otherwise payable to a spouse, they do not affect the Tier II benefit potentially payable to that spouse.

Warm regards,

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